Happy Camp Fire Complex closing in on “megafire” status

The Carson Hot Shots being resupplied by a mule team
The Carson Hot Shots being resupplied by pack animals on the Happy Camp Fire Complex. USFS photo by Mike McFadin.

The Happy Camp Complex of Fires west of Yreka, California is approaching what we have defined as “megafire” status — 100,000 acres of burned forest. As of Thursday night it has blackened 82,956 acres, a number that increases by 4,000 to 12,000 acres daily.

At a cost to date of $47.4 million, almost 3,000 people are assigned to the fire, along with 87 hand crews, 14 helicopters, 127 engines, 23 dozers, 43 water tenders, 29 mules, and 8 horses.

Some areas are still under an evacuation order.

3-D Map of Happy Camp Fire
3-D map of the Happy Camp Complex Fire, looking west at 11 p.m. PDT, Sept 4, 2014.

Firefighters are hoping to keep the fire south of the Klamath River and Highway 96 between the communities of Happy Camp and Horse Creek, a goal they have mostly met, however there have been two large spot fires across the highway and the river that have been stopped. One of them was about 0.6 mile long and the other was about a tenth of a mile across.

On Thursday the fire was very active on the east side where it is burning downhill toward Scott River Road in the vicinity of Scott Bar (see the map of the fire above).

The area will remain under a Red Flag Warning through 11 p.m. Saturday due to a combination of strong winds and low relative humidity.

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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.

4 thoughts on “Happy Camp Fire Complex closing in on “megafire” status”

  1. Type 1 IMT (Opliger) inbriefs on Sunday to assume management of the complex after transition and transfer of command.

  2. Interesting….resupply by pack train, but yet the chopped hovers in the background. Why one over the other?

    1. First rule of avoiding aircraft accidents is to ask the question: is this flight necessary?” If you don’t need to fly, don’t. Pack strings work well, are cost efficient, and safe.


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