Delta Fire adds another 6,000 acres

The fire is 24 miles north of Redding, California. Interstate 5 is now open, one lane in each direction

Sikorsky Air-Crane helicopter Delta Fire
A Sikorsky Air-Crane working on the Delta Fire. USFS photo.

(UPDATED at 2:37 p.m. PDT September 10, 2018)

Interstate 5 is now open. Officials reopened the highway Monday morning, with one lane available in each direction through the fire area. The lane restriction is in effect  for 17 miles between Antlers Bridge in Lakehead and Flume Creek Road, south of Dunsmuir, Caltrans said in a statement.

(UPDATED at 8:52 a.m. PDT September 10, 2018)

Firefighters are making progress, slowly, on the 46,150-acre Delta Fire which has forced the closure of Interstate 5 north of Redding, California. Some of the challenges they are facing include very steep, remote terrain and inversions that trap smoke making aerial support difficult or impossible at times.

One of their goals is to contain the spread near the Interstate so that the very important transportation corridor can be reopened. But in addition to that, thousands of hazardous trees near the highway have be evaluated and mitigated and guard rails destroyed by the fire have to be replaced.

On the southeast side of the fire east of the Interstate crews firing out along a dozer line had a setback when the fire spotted across, requiring them to back off and come up with a modified plan. The firing operation along a dozer line on the north side of the fire west of I-5 appears to be going well, but slowly due to unfavorable winds.

map Delta Fire California Interstate 5
Map of the Delta Fire showing the perimeter (in red) at 12:30 a.m. PDT September 10, 2018. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. The red shaded areas represent intense heat detected by the sensor on the fixed wing mapping aircraft. Click to enlarge.

(UPDATED at 9:55 a.m. PDT September 9, 2018)

Daily inversions have been restricting the growth of the Delta Fire 24 miles north of Redding, California. This atmospheric condition can trap smoke, reduce the visibility for aircraft attempting to drop water or retardant on the fire, keep the relative humidity higher than normal, and prevent direct sunlight and strong winds from influencing the fire.

But in spite of the inversion the fire has continued to grow over the last two days along most of the perimeter, adding thousands of acres each day. A mapping flight Saturday night determined that almost 4,000 acres had burned since the previous night bringing the total up to 40,580.

3-D Delta Fire Map
A 3-D map of the Delta Fire looking north, showing the perimeter at 9 p.m. PDT September 8, 2018. Click to enlarge.

Firefighters are conducting at least two large firing operations. One of them is 2 miles west of I-5 on the north side of the fire along a 5-mile long dozer line stretching from the Interstate west up to a 6,500-foot ridge. At 9 p.m. Saturday about three-quarters of a mile had been completed on this project.

(To see the all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Delta Fire including the most recent, click here:

The other large firing operation is on the southeast side between I-5 and the Hirz Fire. This is proceeding down a dozer line constructed as a contingency line during the battle to contain the Hirz Fire. The dozer line can be seen in black on the map below and the one above.

A 3-D map of the Delta Fire looking west, showing the perimeter at 9 p.m. PDT September 8, 2018. Click to enlarge.

Two spot fires have been growing slowly on the northwest side of the fire southeast of Pond Lily Lake above 5,000′ elevation. They are most likely low priority to deal with, considering that stopping the spread of the fire along Interstate 5 so it can be reopened has to be near the top of the Things To Do list. There is no word on when this major highway will be open to traffic again. About 45 miles of the Interstate are closed.

Evacuations are still in effect for the communities of Delta, Lamoine, Pollard Flat, Sims and Castella. The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page has the most current evacuation information.

Two structures have been destroyed, but officials have not specified if they were residences or out buildings. Approximately 2,132 personnel are assigned to the fire.

(UPDATED at 1:14 a.m. PDT September 8, 2018)

The Delta Fire 24 miles north of Redding, California on Friday added another 12,000 acres moving north, south, east, and west through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. Overnight mapping determined that the fire has burned almost 37,000 acres.

Shortly after it started on September 5 it crossed and forced the closure of Interstate 5, the main north-south highway in Northern California.   It continued to spread east and has merged with the 46,000-acre Hirz Fire. The two fires now share a two-mile long section of their perimeters. Unless the weather changes, that sharing is likely to increase especially on the southeast side of the Delta Fire north of Lakehead where there is the potential to have another 5 miles of common fire edge.

Delta fire
DO NOT ENTER. InciWeb photo.

Multiple commercial vehicles and several structures have been damaged or destroyed.

Caltrans said Friday they expect Interstate 5 will remain closed until Sunday, when they will re-assess the situation. They said the fire is burning close to the highway, guard rails are destroyed, and thousands of trees pose a hazard of falling into the roadway.

3-D Delta Fire Map
A 3-D map of the Delta Fire showing the perimeter at 1 a.m. PDT September 8, 2018.

The passage of a dry cold front Friday brought strong south winds gusting at 14 to 19 mph while the overnight relative humidity remained mostly in the 20’s. By 3 a.m. Saturday at the Green Mountain weather station east of the fire conditions had settled down, with 3 mph north and northeast winds and 32 percent humidity.

The gusty winds out of the south caused spot fires to develop almost a mile north of the fire at Shotgun Creek.

Saturday’s weather forecast for the Lakehead area calls for much calmer 2 to 6 mph winds out of the north until late afternoon when they will be out of the south. The high temperature will be around 90 with the relative humidity in the low teens.

A Type 1 Incident Management Team (CIIMT 4, Kurth) will in-brief Saturday at 3 p.m. Evacuations are in place north of Lakehead to the Siskiyou County Line. Threatened communities include Lakehead, Pollock, Delta, Vollmers, Dog Creek, Lamoine, Pollard Flat, Sims and Castella.

Delta Fire Map
Map of the Delta Fire showing the perimeter at 1 a.m. PDT September 8, 2018. Click to enlarge.

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+