Modoc County, Cal. – A fire burning 50 miles southeast of Klamath Falls has now eclipsed the Milepost 97 fire in size.
The Tucker Fire exploded Monday afternoon to more than 20 square miles.
“We had a couple of spot fires come out.” Explains Incident Commander Dale Middleton. “Some junipers torching up got into some finer fuels, the grasses – about that same time, the wind came up.”
“It put on 10,000 acres in the afternoon.” Notes Ken Sandusky of the Modoc National Forest. “That’s quite a bit of growth.”
“We’re probably looking about about 14 to 15 thousand acres.” Estimated Middleton.
The fire started Sunday afternoon along the east side of Highway 139.
Sandusky attributes the cause to a vehicle. “Unintentional human-caused ignition related to travel along the highway.”
The Clear Lake Hills are currently the most active area for the Tucker Fire.
The fire is burning in a sensitive area which limits the use of bulldozers.
“The sage grouse areas is our main concern right now.” Middleton says. “And then, a lot of Native American archaeological sites up around Clear Lake.”
“The Forest Service takes very seriously protecting heritage resources, and maintains a catalog of identified sites.” Adds Sandusky.
No homes are threatened at this time, though nearby residents have been cautioned.
The fire is about 30% contained.
Middleton says crews are hoping for full containment by the end of the week – if winds die down. “Within that period of time, about the third day it will start to lay down and start to die out, we’re hoping.”
The fire blackened about a mile along the side of the highway.
While the road remains open, drivers are asked to slow down.
About 400 fire fighters are currently working on the fire.
A ‘type two’ incident management team has been called in, and will be in charge of suppression efforts starting Wednesday.