Fuel mix-up temporarily halts operations on Smith River Complex

SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. – Operations were halted for two hours Friday on the south side of the Smith River Complex after a fuel mix-up that affected over 40 resource engines.

Fire officials discovered the issue Friday afternoon.

Crews said a fuel tender put diesel into gasoline-powered engines and gasoline into diesel-powered engines causing 42 vehicles to break down.

Fire officials said that led to a tactical pause of all south-end operations at 4:06 p.m. to make sure all firefighters were safe in case of an emergency.

The pause lasted two hours until 6 p.m. when the night shift was activated at full force.

Crews said Saturday’s operations have gone according to plan with no limitations.

Fire officials said the damage could have been a lot worse but are thankful for lower fire activity.

“Fortunately, the timing, we weren’t evacuating homes and having a running fire at the time,” Smith River Complex Public Information Officer Bill Morse said. “The fire activity has been down, and we’ve been doing a lot of preparation work towards either direct attack or future planned firing burnout operations. So, if it was going to happen, I guess it was a good time.”

The complex for the most part has held in acreage at under 86-thousand acres.

Containment has grown to 20 percent.

Crews are still trying to take advantage of calmer fire behavior before warmer and dryer weather conditions come in.

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Ethan McReynolds is a reporter and weekend anchor for NBC5 News. He grew up in Bothell, Washington and graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Broadcasting and minors in Journalism and Sport Management. At Gonzaga, he started his own sports podcast. Ethan loves rooting for his hometown Seattle sports teams, especially the Mariners. He loves playing baseball, basketball, and soccer. He is also an avid Taylor Swift fan.
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