Smoke from the Hirz Fire creeps up towards Mount Shasta.
The Carr Fire is all but out but here we are nearing the end of August and the smoke persists. I think that, overall, we have had more stretches of better conditions over the last week and a half, but the conditions remain generally smoky. What is the reason for this? I believe that, to some degree, the Hirz Fire is to blame for this. However, that fire is not that big. In addition to its output, I think the mass accumulation of smoke from other fires in a variety of locations has basically produced a vast pall of smoke that has enshrouded much of North America. That’s a happy thought. Here is what the smoke map looks like this evening:
Various layers cover different areas but the large dark gray blob seems to be the mass accumulation of crud in the air. It is a giant stew of nasty particulate and it is covering a huge swath of our continent. It almost gives one a claustrophobic feeling, as though there is no way to escape it. What a waste of a summer.
So what is going with the Hirz Fire? There hasn’t been a ton of information, due to the more remote location and lack of immediate human impact that the Carr Fire had. Nonetheless, it is possible to tease out a few details. One I found particularly interesting in the inter-agency press release is that the area currently burning has had no recorded history of fire, other than a few spot fires. This translates to a rich reservoir of detritus lying on the forest floor, all of which makes great fuel for a fire. Add to the excess of fuels the rugged terrain and it makes since that the fire is proving challenging to tame.
Unfortunately, the Hirz Fire has grown to over 24,000 acres. While the Carr Fire torched several areas along the Sacramento Arm of Shasta Lake, a good chunk of the McCloud Arm has been burned by the Hirz Fire. There is some positive things to report though. On the map below the black lines around the fire mark areas were containment is set.
Note the thin line of pink on the northwest side of the fire. That appears to be a fire line in development, where back burning and other precautions are being implemented. This is what was done to contain the Carr Fire. That means that most of the upper portion of Middle Salt Creek will likely end up being overtaken by the flames. The large salients on the fire lines just to the northeast of the fire break could indicate the presence of other fire lines as well. Observe how the fire reaches the top of the ridge and then stops. This would make sense, since the ridgetop is a natural defensive strong point. Furthermore, crews are currently working on cutting in lines near Tombstone Mountain just to the north. This would represent another pocket for the fire to burn out. In this case, the McCloud River would block the fire (hopefully) to the east while the ridgetop fire lines hem it in to the west. Let’s hope it works.
Here is some progress of the fire over the last 24 hours:
Of course, while containing the Hirz Fire is important, we must still contend with the accumulated smoke from all the other fires. At this point, what we need is a good rainstorm (with no lightning, thank you very much!) to sweep over the west and douse the fires and clear the air. Nothing seems to be pending on the forecast, dern it.