Plumes from the Hirz Fire are visible from Mount Shasta City.
Hard though it may be to believe but it is Labor Day Weekend. Fortunately up here in Mount Shasta we have some gorgeous conditions with blue sky and pleasant temperatures. Of course, just to the south is the Hirz Fire which has grown to a maddeningly large 38,000 acres. With the winds shifting and blowing south, the evidence of the fire’s proximity was revealed today, with large plumes of smoke rising to the south of Mount Bradley and the Castle Crags.
The revelation of the large plumes of smoke brought about a small but misinformed panic on social media. Until today, there has been a thick haze surrounding the Hirz Fire and it has encroached north, often rendering the skies above Dunsmuir opaque. It has at times drifted further north, though the conditions around Mount Shasta have remained much better than they had been over the previous month. Today, however, the winds blew strongly to the south and pushed the excess particulate in the air south. This really exposed the Hirz Fire’s column’s of smoke for the first time. Folks saw these plumes, misjudged their relative position and began posting questions on social media about a fire “on the back side of the Eddies”. Thankfully this proved to be inaccurate and the smoke was indeed being produced by the Hirz Fire.
Worth mentioning was the presence of two fairly distinct plume clusters. The one that appeared further east is the northernmost part of the fire that is actively burning around Tombstone and Yellowjacket Mountains. The plume that seems further west is the active fire along North Salt Creek. These two areas constitute the bulk of the Hirz Fire’s most intensive burn zones.
Looking on the PCTA’s daily conditions map, one can observe the smoke’s path below:
So, thankfully all the billowing smoke is not a new fire and just the still-advancing Hirz Fire. This raises the question regarding what the latest conditions are with this unfortunate conflagration. Nearing 40,000 acres, the fire has now pushed beyond North Salt Creek and is currently burning in the Hazel Creek watershed. Hazel Creek flows into the Sacramento River at the Sims Campground. That means as you drive on I-5, the Hirz Fire is now burning directly east of the freeway as you pass the Sims exit. Its current location can be seen here:
As the map indicates, the fire is approaching both Dunsmuir and McCloud, though neither community is in any danger at this time. This is assertion is supported by the fire lines evident on the map. Note the long pink fingers extending north and west from the upper section of the fire. These are not indicative of wildfires but of back fires and other prevention working being done to establish large fire breaks that will ultimately contain the fire and bring it to heel. Lord willing. A similar line was cut for the Carr Fire and ultimately brought the fire into containment. Observe the map showing this here.
In the gallery below, it is possible to witness the expansion of the fire breaks as they are cut in, as well as the growth of the fire within them. Though the projected date of containment has been moved out by a month, it is still possible to see the Hirz Fire’s endgame taking shape now. Let us all pray the containment lines hold.
Click to enlarge: