Modoc July Complex of Fires at 125 square miles

Modoc County, Cal. – The second-largest fire in the nation is continuing to burn just south of the Oregon / California state line.

NBC2’s Lyle Ahrens has the latest from inside the fire line of the ‘Modoc July Complex’.

Fire Crews have managed to get a line around 40% of the fire.

“The Steele Fire in the north is about 45,000 acres, the Cove Fire is about 28,000 acres.”  Notes Fire Information Officer Sonny Saghera.  “For a total acreage of a little bit over 80,000 acres.”

To put that into perspective, that works out to about 125 square miles.

You could fit five cities the size of Medford inside of the fire lines, or six cities the size of Klamath Falls.

Lightning sparked more than 40 fires in the area on July 24th.

Many of those fires have now merged into the larger complex.

Saghera points out that the weather is still posing a big challenge.  “The heat – obviously, we’re seeing record-setting temperatures this week.  And then in the afternoons, when the winds kick up, that poses a potential problem for the firefighters.”

An incident command post has been set up about 70 miles south of Klamath Falls on Highway 139.

“There’s approximately 2,200 firefighters fighting the fire, plus the 50 or so incident management team here.”  Says Saghera.  “So that’s going to put us probably the second largest population here in Modoc County.”

So far, there have been no structures lost, or injuries as a result of the fire.

It’s estimated the cost of fighting the fire has now reached over fifteen million dollars.

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.

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