Smoke from Lightning Fires Smudges the Skies Above Northern California

Smoke for July 30

Smoke seen in a satellite photo taken yesterday. [Image from the California Smoke Information site]

A lightning storm on July 25 left multiple fires burning about 20 miles north of Orleans. The fires continue to consume vast acres of wildland, currently over 1200. Smoke from the burning wildland has drifted across much of the Emerald Triangle smearing the horizon and causing residents to wonder if there is a nearby fire.

“It’s dirtying up the air, mostly in the upper levels,” said a spokesperson for the National Weather Service in Eureka. “It isn’t concentrated enough to cause health issues.”

According to a message today from the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District,

Current monitoring and weather information forecasts smoke levels Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups during inversion events, along the Klamath River drainage (Somes Bar, Orleans, Weitchpec) for today and tomorrow. Areas outside the Klamath drainage will retain Good to Moderate air quality throughout much of Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity Counties depending on proximity to the fires.

Information about the fires can be found in this press release from the US Forest Service:

The Orleans Complex on the Orleans/Ukonom Ranger District is currently 1,222 acres as of Monday morning. The Complex currently includes seven lightning-caused fires on the Six Rivers National Forest and in the Siskiyou Wilderness. Suppression of the Ukonom Fire in the East Zone is being managed by Northern California Incident Management Team 1 under Type II Incident Commander Curtis Coots. Fires in the West Zone are managed by Type III IC James Courtright.

Lightning fire 7-31

Infrared map showing the lightning fires in Siskiyou County as of last night.

These fires include the Chimney, Dillon, Forks and Little fires. A combination of suppression and confinement strategies are being used for the incident. Containment is currently at 0%.

Assigned to this Complex are:



Crews Engines Dozers









Cooperators on the incident include the Karuk and Yurok Tribes, Klamath National Forest, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management.

There will be a public meeting at 6 p.m. in Karuk Tribe’s Department of Natural Resources office in Orleans at 6 p.m. on Tuesday to provide the local community with more information about the fire.

The forest’s top priority on the East Zone of the Orleans Complex is the Ukonom Fire burning near Ukonom Mountain. This fire is estimated at approximately 1,082 acres as of Monday morning.

Weather conditions will cause smoke to concentrate in the valley floors of the Klamath River Drainage and could impact local communities. Conditions are expected to be warmer and drier today.

The first priority for all fires that are part of the Orleans Complex is to provide for firefighter and public safety, along with protecting cultural sites and natural resources.

The Six Rivers National Forest remains under fire restrictions. Go to to learn more about the restrcitons. For up to date fire information go to

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