Caldwell Fire burns through Lava Beds National Monument in northern California

UPDATED at 1:25 p.m. PDT July 29, 2020

Caldwell Fire Lassen Volcanic Highway
Caldwell Fire, on Lassen Volcanic Highway July 28, 2020. Inciweb photo.

The Caldwell Fire in northeast California was not as active Tuesday as it had been in recent days. It added an additional 1,508 acres which brought the total up to 69,297. Most of the growth was on the northwest side within or west of Lava Beds National Monument.

The area is under a Red Flag Warning Wednesday from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m.

From the Incident Management Team, July 29, 2020:

“[Tuesday] crews conducted burning operations to even out the fire’s edge and fill in unburned areas. On the west side of the fire, the 49 road is holding well. Firefighters were able to begin direct control line construction on the south side of the fire, working from the 49 road eastward. Additionally, crews are still creating secondary control lines south of the fire perimeter.

“On the southeast corner, dozers and firefighters succeeded in creating solid control line, and this allowed the residents of Tionesta to return to their homes. On the east side, fire held well along the 120 road, and fire crews built control line all around the fire area that had crossed over the railroad tracks. On the north, fire flanked into the marsh and the tule is receptive to burning, however, fire is holding well at the 120 road.”

UPDATED at 7:49 a.m. PDT July 28, 2020

Caldwell Fire wildfire Lava Beds National Monument
Caldwell Fire. USFS photo.

The Caldwell Fire in northeast California burned across Lava Beds National Monument Monday, adding another 24,040 acres to bring the total up to 67,789 acres. This is 26 percent of the 259,823 acres burned in California wildfires in 2019.

Map of the Caldwell Fire wildfire California Lava Beds
Map of the Caldwell Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 11:17 p.m. PDT July 27, 2020. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. “VC” is the location of the Visitors Center at Lava Beds National Monument.

As of Monday evening the mandatory evacuation of Tionesta ordered by the Modoc County Sheriff’s Office was still in effect.

There is no Red Flag Warning in effect for the fire area. The forecast for Tuesday calls for 87 degrees, 19 percent relative humidity, and 2 to 7 mph winds out of the southeast in the morning and west in the afternoon. On Wednesday the winds will be out of the south and stronger, 7 to 13 mph gusting up to 20 with 12 percent relative humidity.

Originally published at 2:39 p.m. PDT July 27, 2020

Map Caldwell Fire 12:24 am PDT July 27, 2020
Map of the Caldwell Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 12:24 am PDT July 27, 2020. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

Outflow winds from a thunderstorm Sunday caused the Caldwell Fire to spread seven miles to the north, more than doubling in size. Early Sunday morning the fire was 13,125 acres, but at 12:20 a.m. Monday a fixed wing aircraft mapped it at 43,749 acres, an increase of 30,624.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Caldwell Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

As of 6:45 a.m. Monday one structure and three outbuildings were confirmed as destroyed. The fire threatened the community of Tulelake, prompting evacuations in that area. The fire has spread to approximately one mile south of County Road 120. Firefighting resources attacking the new growth included 20 engines, 5 water tenders, and 3 20-person hand crews. On the east side firefighters stopped the fire along 6 miles of a railroad, however there was one slop-over.

Caldwell Fire
Caldwell Fire. NPS photo by fire lookout Ranger Wendy from Schonchin Butte July 26, 2020.

Firefighters conducted burn-out operations around the Lava Beds National Monument Visitor Center and around some residences in order to protect the facilities.

Caldwell Fire
Caldwell Fire, NPS photo by Ranger C. Orland, as seen from the park’s north entrance July 26 2020.

Additional evacuations were ordered by the Modoc County Sheriff’s Office.

The area is under a Red Flag Warning Monday for gusty winds and low humidity.

On Monday firefighters on the north side of the fire will prioritize protecting structures in the Tulelake area and construct both direct and indirect containment line. Crews west of the fire will continue work on the secondary containment lines between the fire and the Medicine Lake area. There are 16 helicopters available to assist with suppression efforts Monday.

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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.

7 thoughts on “Caldwell Fire burns through Lava Beds National Monument in northern California”

  1. The Lava beds at Tule Lake are historically important. This is the site where the Modoc Indians took a stand against soldiers in one of last of the Indian Wars. The Modoc warriors carried out several successful raids against the soldiers in a valiant effort to protect the tribe, their women and children, and their homeland.

  2. In above report says threatened community of Tulelake, if you mean farmsteads along the northern perimeter yes. But the town of Tulelake, no way, it is north of the lake and surrounded by fields-yes, mature barley/wheat fields would be in danger.

  3. Bill Gabbert – thank you for the information filled report on this fire. When I need good Intell, I always go to your website. Good maps, good info. Hopefully some of the burning we did there in the ‘90’s will lessen some the bad effects and/or provide fire folk with some working space.
    K Kerr

      1. Doing well Matt!
        Wondered if that was you…
        Mt Emma 1999!
        Mtbiking, hiking, fishing, hunting, skiing, backpacking….blah, blah blah.
        It’s all good!
        Take care!

  4. Thanks for a helpful, up-to-date summary of the Caldwell Fire.

    I hope the conditions improve this week for fire suppression. Wishing all of the firefighters well and success in their mission.

    Glad to hear they are battling the west flank, keeping Medicine Lake safe.


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