[UPDATE 7:08 p.m.: ‘Multiple Structures Destroyed’] Hwy 299 Still Closed After 6000 Acre Wildfire Burned Homes and Sent Around 2000 Residents Fleeing

The yellow fires burning depict hot spots that showed up on the satellite overnight but the actual fire is believed to be larger. [Image from Wildfire Viewer]

Note: Items in bold green words are updates.

The Helena Wildfire which began about 5 p.m. the evening before had consumed (as of 8:50 a.m.) 6000 acres and was 0% contained. The Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center reports that “multiple structures” have been destroyed. Residents are telling us that at least a few of these are homes.

Structures in the Helena area are facing flames today and are considered threatened by the US Forest Service. Those living between Helena and Oregon Mountain Summit, including the Canyon Creek area, were ordered to leave their homes.  Inciweb reports that “approximately 2,000 people have been evacuated.”

According to the Inciweb, “An evacuation center [has been] established at the First Baptist Church in Weaverville located at 1261 Main Street across from Suzie’s Bakery…Large animals may be taken to Lowden Park located on Washington Street between Hwy. 3 and Hwy 299.

Caltrans message board at the junction of Hwy 299 and Hwy 101.

Caltrans District 2 reports that because of the wildfire, Hwy 299 is closed near Eagle Rock Quarry on the west side of the fire and east of Junction City near mile marker 45. [UPDATE: As of 8:34 a.m., the CHP Traffic Incident Information Page indicates that 299 “will be closed for at least 24 hours.”] “There won’t be construction work at Big French Creek today, west of Weaverville,” Caltrans states.

Channel 7 News reports that Trinity High School and Weaverville Elementary are closed.

The weather is not going to help. According to NOAA, Helena and the surrounding areas are facing “a prolonged period of excessive heat” that should last through “at least Monday, with the hottest temperatures likely Friday and
Saturday when some valley locations may exceed 110 degrees.” In addition, gusty winds are expected.

The National Weather Service has placed the entire area under Red Flag warning meaning that there are “critical fire weather conditions likely Thursday night and
Friday morning for elevated terrain area-wide due to gusty offshore winds and very low humidity…”

Because of this, the Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center is predicting “extreme fire behavior [with] long range spotting.”

Aircraft including Air Attack, Air Tankers, and Helicopters are on order.

Below is video by Laurie Haney taken at the Helena Bridge about 9 p.m. yesterday.

UPDATE 10:45 a.m.: Road closures:
List of road closures Helena Fire 8/31/17UPDATE 10:48 a.m.: According to Inciweb, “A fire information number has been set up at (530) 628-0039. Those who have been evacuated can also call (530) 623-1726 to have their contact information placed on a list so that they can later be notified by the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office about any property damage.”

UPDATE 11:14 a.m.: 
More information on air quality can be found on this post: Smoke Levels Near Helena Fire on 299 Are Hazardous

UPDATE 12:39 p.m.: The Trinity County Sheriff, Bruce Haney, “has declared a local State of Emergency due to the Helena Area Fire that started 08-30-17.”

UPDATE 4:46 p.m.: According to the Northern California Geographic Area Coordination Center, the fire is “6,000 acres grass, brush, and timber 0% contained. Extreme fire behavior, long range spotting…Multiple structures destroyed. Mandatory evacuations in place. Structures are threatened in the community of Helena.”

UPDATE 6:30 p.m.: Caltrans is reporting that Hwy 299 is likely to be closed overnight from east of Junction City to Big Flat.

Hwy 299 during the Helena Fire

Hwy 299 during the Helena Fire. [Photo from Caltrans District 2’s Facebook]

UPDATE 7:08 p.m.: Governor Brown Declares State of Emergency for Trinity County Due to Wildfire

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