Smoke from the Delta Fire obscures Black Butte.
The Delta Fire started off with a bang yesterday. It quickly expanded from a few acres to 2,000 acres to 5,000 acres and then, during the night, exceeded 15,000 acres. As of the time of this writing, (about 9:00 AM) I would bet it is approaching 20,000+ acres. Unfortunately it is officially at 0% containment. The weather is going to be warm today with dangerous conditions returning again in the afternoon. I am praying for the firefighters and that they can put a lid on this thing really quick.
Here in Mount Shasta, the conditions are smoky and ash continues to fall out of the sky. I was up last night around 3:00 AM and the ash was reminiscent of snow. Would that it were. When it was light out I checked the conditions outside again and there was ash everywhere. Some schools have been canceled for the day, though I imagine that this move was done largely to keep people off the freeway and roads. Evacuations are in effect as well, stretching from Lakehead all the way to the Shasta County line. South Dunsmuir has also been evacuated, but I am guessing that this is referring to the area that lies immediately on the county line, near Railroad Park. This includes Castella, Sweetbriar and the Soda Creek area.
So what is going on with the fire itself?
To catch up, check out my post from last night. It has been updated with some night time webcam images.
The fire now is officially listed as 15,294 acres but that is no doubt an out of date estimate. The fire is burning on both sides of I-5 and it is likely that, despite the sparse settlement in the area, there are some destroyed structures. On the east side of the freeway, the flames jumped the Sacramento River and are now actively burning toward the Hirz Fire. The real problem area is on the west side of the freeway, where the flames are massive and are consuming the Slate Creek watershed. Check the maps below:
Sept. 6 7:00 AM
See the live map here.
The last image, being the most recent, is obviously the most pertinent and shows just how intense the fire is. Unfortunately the flames are encroaching toward the Tamarack Lake Basin, one of my favorite spots in the Trinity Divide. I really hope that area manages to escape the flames. It may be that this fire erases the last bits of the Trinity Summit Trail too. Sad.
I do think there is a little good news in all of this. Ironically, the fire is burning right in between the north end of the Carr Fire and the Hirz Fire. This means a couple of things. First the previous fires have significantly reduced the fuels in those areas, making them somewhat natural fire breaks. Second, there were contingency bulldozer-cut fire breaks that were cut in to contain those fires if the lines that ultimately stopped the flames failed. This is particularly useful on the southwest side of the Delta Fire. On the map, those lines are what have prevented the fire from advancing on Lakehead.
Map made by Deer Creek Resources. The white lines indicate contingency fire lines already in place.
Another good bit of news (this is unconfirmed by a second source) is the small heat blooms visible next to Trinity Lake. These have been reported to be backfires already begun to block the the westward advance of the fire. North of this back fire area is Bonanza King. This is the largest mountain between the Trinity Divide and the Trinity Alps. At 7,000 feet and very rocky, it may serve as a natural fire break on the west.
The north end of the Slate Creek watershed is made up of Middle Ridge, which also hems in the Tamarack Lake Basin. This would be a good place to stop the fire’s northward advance, if they are able to hold that area. The other really troubling spot is the west side of the Sacramento River Canyon. It has a lot of clear cuts and those are easy places for spot fires to start.
Today is critical in containing this fire and I believe that significant resources have been diverted to fight the fire. Hopefully that is the case. I’ll be saying prayers all day. I hope everyone else is too.
Update (10:00 AM):
An official map as of this morning has been put out. The fire has already expanded beyond its lines depicted here but this does help show where the fire is at:
One good bit of news that the map indicates is that the small village of Delta may have survived. Most folks probably don’t even know it is there but there are a number of old houses right on the Sacramento River. I had figured the town got obliterated but, at least according to this map, Delta may have survived:
Also, I have heard that the gas station at Pollard Flat survived. Let’s hope that is the case!
The Delta Fire at 10:45 AM.
The scanners indicate significant air resources are being diverted to the Delta Fire. This certainly is a good thing. If the contingency lines left over from the Carr Fire hold and and the fire around North Salt Creek can be channeled into the Hirz Fire, then the northern area is the most pressing area of need. Perhaps much of the air resources will be used to bottle the fire up, especially along Middle Ridge. That is the most obvious natural line of defense and I hope they hare able to make a stand there.
Update (2:00 PM)
The smoke has really shifted to the west since this morning. The Trinity Divide is really socked in but Mount Shasta is relatively smoke free. It sort of feels like rain but none is in the forecast. It all feels very strange.
Smoke has inundated Mount Eddy and the Trinity Divide.
Mount Shasta is surprisingly smoke free.
The heat blooms on this map make it look like the fire is losing its intensity. I am sure that this is not the case, but it does give some cause to hope that perhaps they can close the door on this really fast. I suspect that there will be an update soon indicating the fire’s actual, and likely substantial, activity.
Also, if you are trying to get around the fire watch out for big rigs on both Highway 3 and on Highway 299. Hwy 3 was blocked by a big rig last night and 299 is currently blocked by an accident involving a big rig.