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.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.
He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.
“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.
When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.