Success story in the Klamath Mountains has an interesting article about how residents in the northern California community of Butler successfully prepared for and responded to the Butler Fire, part of the Orleans Complex, in August of 2013.

A significant investment in fire prevention work from the community, the US Forest Service and US Fish and Wildlife Service during and after these fire events allowed firefighters to safely defend the 10 structures there during the Butler Fire.

Butler folks had faced this event before and were prepared, with the help of the local community and firefighters, to defend their homes once again. An old ditch line constructed by miners in the 1800’s was identified after the 2008 fires as the place to hold future fires upslope of the homes. Thirteen acres of prescribed burns had been conducted by the Orleans Somes Bar Fire Safe Council between this ditch and the homes below, since 2008, and in the past two years, the Salmon River Fire Safe Council had brushed more than 10 acres along the ditch line.

Burnouts on the western flank of the 2013 Salmon River Complex in Murderer’s Gulch caused thousands of acres of plantations to burn at high intensity.

As the fire approached, 40-plus community members who had just mobilized to help save the town of Orleans from another arson fire, came up to see how they could pitch in. While some crews prepared the homes for fire, others established perimeter firelines and brushed along the main water line. Still others organized an emergency evacuation plan for volunteers. Some people brought food, and supplies like brass fittings to get hydrants online. And Rebecca Lawrence, a Facebook pro, whipped up the Salmon River and Orleans Complexities Open Group that allowed people to communicate and organize even when phones were out and roads were closed. When the agency hotshot crews showed up a couple days later, they were grateful for the prep work already accomplished that allowed them to focus on bringing the fire safely past the homes with minimal use of burnouts…

Below is a map that we published in an August 4, 2013 article about the Orleans and Salmon River Complexes of fires in northern California. The Butler Fire was in the eastern section of the Orleans Complex, 7 miles east of Orleans and about 49 miles northeast of Eureka. 

3-D Map of Salmon River and Orleans Complexes of fires August 3, 2013
3-D Map of Salmon River and Orleans Complexes of fires August 3, 2013 (click to enlarge)

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+