Northern fire still a problem

The Associated Press
Wednesday June 12, 2002

ETNA – Steep, rugged terrain near the Oregon border made it difficult for firefighters to combat a 600-acre wildfire that threatened homes and animals Tuesday, and officials said they don’t expect to contain the blaze until next week. 

Meanwhile, week-old blazes that have scorched nearly 45,000 acres of brush and forest land throughout the state are nearing containment. 

The blaze in rural Siskiyou County was burning about 30 miles south of the Oregon state line in treacherous mountain terrain that made it difficult to fight, said Tom Fields, a spokesman for the Oregon California Incident Management Team, which arrived Monday night to help fight the blaze. 

The fire started Sunday afternoon when a backyard debris fire burned out of control, said Penny Melum, a spokeswoman for the Klamath National Forest. Wildfire officials said containment is expected by next Monday. 

“It is human caused, and it just breaks my heart,” she said. 

About 500 firefighters worked in 80-degree heat Tuesday to battle the blaze, which was spread by high winds that pushed flames along 80-degree slopes. Calm winds on Tuesday were expected to help prevent the fire from spreading. 

The few homes in the area were not immediately threatened and no evacuations were ordered, but fire engines were stationed at each house. The fire did threaten the homes of bears, mountain lions, raccoons and rattlesnakes. 

To the south, a 1,100-acre wildfire that burned 60 miles northeast of Sacramento in Yuba County was contained Monday afternoon. It started Sunday when high winds knocked power lines into a tree, briefly prompting the evacuation of about 150 homes. 

In Southern California, a wildfire that burned 23,407 acres of brush in the Angeles National Forest destroyed nine homes and chased away more than 1,000 residents. It was 90 percent contained on Tuesday. 

Full containment was expected Tuesday evening, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Martin Esparza said. 

In Ventura County, a blaze that burned across 21,278 acres in the Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai was 65 percent contained Tuesday.