Smith River Complex grows 15K acres in 24 hours as resources arrive daily

DEL NORTE COUNTY, Calif. – The Smith River Complex in Del Norte County continues to threaten southern Oregon.

The complex is now at nearly 45,000 acres and 0% containment.

The largest of the 12 fires in the complex is the Kelly Fire.

“That fire is continuing to move westward toward the community of Gasquet and of course a little bit south, and it looks like it might have the potential to continue to the Hurdy Gurdy and the coon fire that are just south of it,” Smith River Complex spokesperson Tom Stokesberry said.

Fire officials are in numerous communities around the complex, helping protect structures as the fire grows.

New mapping shows the fire inching closer to Josephine County.

The Rogue-River Siskiyou National Forest said progress is being made on the north end of the complex, as a dozer line was put in between Monkey Creek Ridge to Highway 199.

“Having that team in place, having those experts up north come down and help us on that northern side it’s been tremendous. For quite a few days we’ve had a lack of resources and now they’re coming in, we’re at upwards of 1,200 here on our side,” Stokesberry said.

More resources are coming everyday to northern California.

The U.S. Forest Service said of the 16,000 firefighters on the ground, 6,000 are in northern California alone.

The largest incidents, the Happy Camp Complex and the Smith River Complex, are now competing for resources.

“What it means it when something like a lightning bust happens all at once, there’s a huge amount of priority even on the lowest local level to try and figure out how to get people to incidents,” U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Adrienne Freeman said. 

It’s been a week since the fires broke out and firefighters continue to arrive every day.

According to the forest service, there are 150 active fires in the region, posing a challenge when it comes to prioritizing where resources should go.

Freeman: “We’re getting a lot of resources coming in, those are the two that are prioritized the highest in the state, they’re actually the two highest in the country,” Freeman said. “We work hard to also make sure we leave resources at home to respond to respond to the fires, as we talked about, that are happening every single day.”

The next community meeting for the Smith River Complex will take place tomorrow at 6 p.m. at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds.

It will also be livestreamed on the Six Rivers National Forest Facebook page.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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