[UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Injured Firefighter] Airport Closed at Gasquet as New Wildfire Blooms on the Horizon

Smoke around fire helicopters

File photo of firefighting helicopters at Gasquet’s Ward Field in September of 2017.  [Photo by Mark Harris]

Two new wildfires, the Eighteen and the Toll, possibly sparked by lightning storms last night, were reported northeast of Gasquet this morning. The first was reported at 9:26 a.m. and the second at 10:26 a.m., according to an online report at the Fortuna Interagency Command Center.

Firefighters are using Ward Field, the Gasquet Airport to gather.

According to Susan Daugherty, interim manager of Ward Field told us, “I closed the airport. There were enough firetrucks that there was a safety hazard that we didn’t want to take the risk.

Daugherty said she was told the fire was “six to 10 acres on the other side of the ridge.” She said she was told, “They are hoping to have it be under control by this evening.”

Medical aid was called into Ward Field about 2:30 p.m. but at this point, we haven’t learned why.

UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Susan Daugherty tells us that the airport will be closed three to five days. “They are telling us they will need it for that long,” she said.

She also confirmed that there had been a firefighter injured. “But [the firefighter] walked out of the helicopter,” she said. “Didn’t need a lifeflight.”

 

 

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3 comments

  • Oh. I smelled it earlier today and was hoping I wasn’t smelling what I thought I was smelling. Whenever this happens, even when I can’t smell it, my eyes and throat get dry.

    I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go to my wildfire bookmarks this year.

    I get too mad. 🙁

  • Friends are down visiting from Cave Junction and they have their local Illinois Valley News paper with them. This is on the front page of July 11th edition:

    F-15 DOGFIGHTS SHATTER THE CALM
    -Mark Freeman, Mail Tribune

    Medford, Oregon (AP)

    Each year Gabe Howe of Ashland hikes deep into his beloved Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area to really get away from it all.

    But on June 21, it was as if he had hiked into a virtual video game.

    Out of nowhere, F-15 fighter jets streaked across the sky, complete with dogfights and evasive maneuvers as if someone was shooting missiles at them –despite the fact that it’s fire season in this remote area.

    “It was like a war zone,” says Howe, executive director of the Siskiyou Mountain Club. “These fighter jets were chasing each other around, sonic booms and even shooting off flares. That’s not the experience I’m looking for.”

    “It’s not conducive to the management of a wilderness,” says Howe, who shot a short video of a spent flare in the air. “It doesn’t seem they should be doing that in a place of that level of protection.”

    Turns out the Oregon Air National Guard enjoys the Kalmiopsis for the same reason Howe does: Getting away from people.

    “We don’t like to fly over populated areas,” says Guard Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar at Klamath Falls’ Kingsley Field, the only F-15 fighter training facility in America.

    (The article goes on to claim that the airspace is owned by the FEDERAL Aviation Administration and can be used without the consent, blessing, or even knowledge of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest officials. That is Not what the Tenth Amendment says)

    To continue – Amanda Lucas, the unit aviation officer for the Forest Service and FEDERAL Bureau of Land Management in southwest Oregon, says there have not been any documented fires caused by National Guard flares in Western Oregon, but a few have been found in Central Oregon.

    Howe says his Siskiyou Mountain Club crew was in the Kalmiopsis last year on the eve of the Chetco Bar fire when they saw the F-15s practice dogfighting and fire flares.

    The Chetco Bar fire, which eventually enveloped 191,197 acres including portions of the Kalmiopsis in the upper Chetco River Basin, was caused by lightening, and Howe says “unequivocally” that no spent flares ignited any portion of that fire.

    When the crew returned, Howe says he talked to them individually about what they saw and their accounts were consistent. They were also consistent with rumors Howe had heard from botanists and others who venture into the Kalmiopsis.

    However, he didn’t say anything at the time because he didn’t think people would believe him.

    “It just sounds like a conspiracy,” Howe says. “Living in Ashland, people would associate me with the anti-vaccination crowd or the chemtrails crowd.”

    “But I saw it with my own two eyes,” he says.

  • Wow, too bad he did not have video on this.

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