Caldwell Fire explodes to 43,000 acres

Lava Beds National Monument – The ‘Caldwell’ Fire has now charred more than 70 square miles in the area of the Lava Beds National Monument.

Lava Beds Superintendent Larry Whalon has been evacuated from his home due to the 43,000 acre Caldwell Fire.

Whalon spoke with NBC5 Monday morning.  “The fire has grown about 30 thousand acres overnight.”

Whalon says the park visitor center is in the path of the fire, and has been evacuated.  “We’re concerned today that we’ll probably put those headquarters in jeopardy.”

Whalon watched the fire from the ‘Devil’s Homestead’ outlook as he left the park.

“That’s a pretty good firefront.”  Whalon said as he surveyed the fire.  “It moved 9 miles yesterday in one hour.”

Tulelake Police Chief Tony Ross says the people of Tulelake are safe.  “We are 10, 12 miles away from the fire.  It would have to burn through a lake and a refuge to get to us.”

Ross confirms that some homes south of town are at risk.  “Modoc County has been making contact with those residents, and advising them the potential for them having to evacuate.”

Whalon says some of the artifacts on display at the visitor center have been moved to safety.

“We’re doing everything we can to turn the switch off on this fire.”  Notes Whalon.  “But it is having behavior that we’ve not seen here in the Lava Beds.”

The Caldwell Fire is the largest of several fires making up the ‘July Complex’.

The fires were sparked by lightning on Wednesday of last week.

About 15 hundred people are working to put out the fire.

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