The sun rises through smoke that covers the region east of Mount Shasta.
Today is the fourth day of the Delta Fire. While the fire began with a roar on Wednesday, it seems like its advance has slowed, though it is still out of control and very dangerous. This morning it has heated up again and is moving north.
Yesterday was pretty smoky but when I awoke this morning I saw stars and new I needed to head out to see what I could see. Though the town of Mount Shasta was clear, I could tell as I drove up Everitt Memorial Highway that the smoke coming from the fire was thick and was really starting to encroach on the Old Ski Bowl, making a good view of the fire unlikely from that vantage point. Fortunately, the Everitt Vista Point was far enough west it offered a good perspective on the fire, as well as the smoke down in the valley below:
From there I headed north, to watch the sun come up behind the mountain. With the smoke drifting to the northeast, the morning provided a the unusual spectacle of watching the sun with the naked eye, as it was filtered by the smoke. Also unusual was the smoke passing through the gap between Mount Shasta’s summit and Shastina. The smoke seemed to flow faster through the gap, pushed by the strong wind currents that are typical of that spot. I watched the plume as it billowed and roiled and thought it almost looked as though fresh snow were being blown off the mountain as the sun was coming up. Would that it were so.
The smoke may present some unusual photographic opportunities but at this point I would dispense with them for a dead fire and clear skies.
Before I go into what the fire is up to, I want to reiterate that all the analysis is my own and that I am a complete amateur at this. Firefighting personnel know far more than I!
So what is going on with the fire this morning? Frustratingly, it has now grown to 37,000 acres, nearly equaling the neighboring (and now contiguous) Hirz Fire. Yesterday the fire expanded a bit in the canyon, threatening to move north through the vital and vulnerable corridor. Thankfully it seems to have backed off there. However, there is renewed strength to the flames on the northern front, though it does not seem to be advancing at a rapid rate.
The pair of isolated heat blooms on the northeast corner are probably backfires being conducted on Middle Ridge, where a fire line is being cut in. Hopefully that project continues swiftly and the line is able to be built all the way across the ridge and connecting to Red Mountain on the west side. This would contain the fire and also preserve the gorgeous Tamarack Lake Basin (one of my personal favorites).
This map was included in an update yesterday, but I think it is worth posting again. The depiction of the fire is out of date, since it was drawn yesterday but the fire lines have not changed. I drew in the breaks built to contain the Carr and Hirz Fires, as well as the line on Middle Ridge that is under construction. I added a speculative line that I imagine is under construction or would make a good project to contain the fire’s northern advance.
Black = built lines, Dark Blue = under construction, Purple = speculative
I imagine the fire is likely to continue to burn to the northeast, across the Sacramento River. This will consume the Hazel Creek watershed but stay contained by the contingency line built along Sweetbriar Ridge. That, along with the line being built on Middle Ridge (the dark blue line), should protect Sweetbriar, Castella, Dunsmuir and beyond.
With the new day arriving and some clearish skies, I hope the air attack can really continue to hammer at the fire. That, along with the crews cutting in lines, they might be able to put a lid on this thing. Lord willing!
Here is the Delta Fire progression from the last 24 hours:
Update (10:40 AM):
The fire does not seem to be advancing but things are really heating up. It also looks like more heat blooms on Middle Ridge may indicate backfire operations are expanding. Again, that is complete amateur speculation but it fits with what we know.