Helena Fire Pushes Toward Junction City After Destroying Over 140 Structures; Fork Fire Spreads West


An embedded map of the wildfires burning in the United States.

The record heat wave hitting northern California has fed multiple wildfires causing them to grow by leaps and bounds.

Governor Brown declared a state of emergency for Trinity County because of the Helena Fire which began on August 30. However, not far from that fire is the Fork Fire which has also grown quickly in the last few days.

Smoke smothers the road as heavy to fight the Helena Fire.

Smoke smothers the road as heavy equipment arrives to fight the Helena Fire. The photographer tells us the visibility is down to 500 feet. [Photo by Brian Romanoff]

The Helena Fire destroyed 72 homes and 61 outbuildings, according to the Trinity County Sheriff. Four residences and four outbuildings have also suffered damage. It consumed over 6,800 acres and is pushing towards Junction City which has a population of about 700. Hwy 299 is still closed and there is no estimate of when it will reopen.

Heat map yesterday in the early morning hours.

Below is a heat map of the Helena and the Fork created from images taken at 10:16 p.m. last night. (For readers with Google Earth, downloading this link, will allow them to view the heat map in 3D. 20170902_Helena_IR) This shows the large growth of both fires.

Helena and Fork at 10:22

Heat map from 10:22 p.m. last night.

The red lines show that the Fork Fire pushed westward and threw out a spot fire towards a small number of structures by last night. It grew to 514 acres by this afternoon.

“Smokejumpers were unable to reach the fire yesterday due to hazardous conditions,” according to the InciWeb. Crews will be staffing this fire tomorrow.

Allow some time to let the following map of the Helena Fire load.

pio_C_land_Helena_20170902

Below is information from the InciWeb and from a press release from the US Forest Service:

This is from the InciWeb:

The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order for residents between Helena and Oregon Mountain Summit. This includes the Canyon Creek area. The order includes: Red Hill Road and all roads off of Red Hill Road; Valdor Road; Canyon Creek and all roads off of Canyon Creek; Power House Road and Upper Road.
An evacuation center has been established at the First Baptist Church in Weaverville. Small animals may be taken to the Trinity County animal shelter and farm animals may be taken to Trinity High School.

Damage Assessment: An inventory yesterday verified that 72 homes and 61 outbuildings have been destroyed, and 4 homes and 4 outbuildings have been damaged. The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office will provide property information to residents. The Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 530-623-8103 and will post walk-in office hours on their Facebook page.

This is from the press release:

California Interagency Incident Management Team 3 (CIIMT3) is managing the Helena Fire in the Highway 299 corridor under unified command with CALFIRE and the Fork Fire which is burning in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. A damage assessment team has inventoried structures in the Helena Fire area. One hundred forty one structures have been confirmed damaged or destroyed by the Helena Fire. Residents who have been evacuated can contact the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office at

530-623-8103 for information about the status of their property.

Helena Fire – Date/Time Reported: August 30, 2017 Cause: Under investigation Size: 6,812 acres Containment: 5%

Location: near Junction City, CA

Status: The fire continued to be active through the night and is moving toward Junction City. Crews continue to protect and secure structures and critical infrastructure in the community of Junction City and vicinity including Coopers Bar Estates, Hocker Meadow Road, Power House Road and Canyon Creek. Direct and indirect fire lines are being constructed to keep the fire east of East Fork Road. Roads and dozer lines on the south side of the fire are being used to keep the fire west of Feleters Gulch. On the northern perimeter, the fire is backing into Brock Gulch and is holding along Brock Road. The fire has crossed into the Trinity Alps Wilderness near Canyon Creek. The smoke inversion is moderating the fire’s rate of spread, and is also limiting the use of air resources.

Fork Fire – Date/Time Reported: August 7, 2017 Cause: Lightning Size: 514 acres Containment: 0%

Location: north of Monument Peak and southwest of East Fork Lakes in the Trinity Alps Wilderness

Status: Smokejumpers were unable to reach the fire yesterday due to hazardous conditions. The Fork Fire began as a single tree fire that was one of 42 fires reported during a lightning event that occurred August 7-23, 2017. A wildland fire module is enroute and will begin staffing the Fork Fire tomorrow.

Fire Resources: Fire Crews Fire Engines

Bulldozers

Water Tenders

Helicopters

Total Personnel
Helena Fire

7

71

5

4

6

450

Evacuations: The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order for residents between Helena and Oregon Mountain Summit, including the Canyon Creek area; Red Hill Road and all roads off of Red Hill Road; Valdor Road; Canyon Creek and all roads off of Canyon Creek; Power House Road and Upper Road. Evacuation services are available in Weaverville. An evacuation center has been established at the First Baptist Church; small animals may be taken to Trinity County animal shelter and farm animals may be taken to Trinity High School.

Damage Assessment: An inventory yesterday verified that 72 homes and 61 outbuildings have been destroyed, and 4 homes and 4 outbuildings have been damaged. The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office will provide property information to residents. The Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 530-623-8103 and will post walk-in office hours on their Facebook page.

Weather and Smoke: The fire area is under a hazardous weather outlook with an excessive heat warning. Smoke from fires in northern California and southern Oregon is creating unhealthy air conditions. Visit ncuaqmd.org for air quality information and hours and locations of clean air shelters.

Road Closures: State Route 299 is closed east of Junction City (near milepost 45) and west of Helena Bridge.

Wilderness / Recreation Access: The Canyon Creek and Hobo Gulch Trailheads are not accessible due to the Hwy 299 closure. Hikers and horseback riders in other areas of the Trinity Alps Wilderness should be aware of smoke and other potential hazards due to nearby fires. The BLM Junction City Campground and Bagdad River Access along Highway 299 and the Grapevine Swimming Hole on East Fork Road are closed until further notice.

UPDATE Sunday: Helena and Fork Fires: Maps and Morning Update

Earlier Chapters:

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