Lava Fire under a Red Flag Warning Monday afternoon

Monday morning it had burned 1,446 acres 3 miles east of Weed, California

Updated at 9:16 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021

Lava Fire
Lava Fire, from the Antelope Yreka1 camera. Looking southeast toward Mt. Shasta at 3:32 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021. Before it crossed Highway 97.

The Lava Fire that was east of Weed, California Monday morning is much larger than it was after being pushed north in the afternoon by winds gusting from 26 to 33 mph. It crossed Highway 97 and kept going. It is difficult to tell how far north it ran until the smoke clears or an infrared mapping aircraft can collect some intelligence overnight.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Lava Fire, including the most current, click HERE.)

The weather forecast predicts the wind speed will decrease sharply after 10 p.m. Monday night to around 5 mph, and overnight will come out of the east-southeast, then east. Tuesday morning the direction will be variable but will become established in the afternoon to come from the east at 13 to 16 mph gusting to 24 mph. This could spread the fire to the west unless by then firefighters can contain the west flank.

CAL FIRE is mobilizing large numbers of firefighting resources to assist in battling the fire, which burned out of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest after it crossed Highway 97.

Lava Fire
West flank of the Lava Fire, north of Highway 97, at 5:39 p.m. June 28, 2021. Looking east-southeast from the Lake Shastina camera.

Updated at 4:51 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021

A person on Twitter who follows wildland fires closely, CA Fire Scanner,  learned from listening to the Lava Fire’s radio traffic that the fire, spreading rapidly north, has crossed Highway 97 and is well established on the north side.

Approximately five air tankers are working the fire, including Tanker 912, a DC-10.

However this afternoon’s fire run turns out, the weather forecast for Monday night also looks troublesome. After 10 p.m. the wind is expected to shift to come out of the southeast and then east. The speed should decrease from the 29 mph gusts in the afternoon to 5 to 8 mph through the night. This wind direction could push the fire west, threatening communities west of the fire.

smoke from Lava Fire
Satellite photo, smoke from Lava Fire at 4:21 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021.

Updated at 3:40 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021

Lava Fire
Lava Fire, as seen from the Hammond Ranch camera. Looking northeast at 3:07 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021.

An additional evacuation order was posted on Facebook by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office at about 3 p.m. June 28:

Evacuation Lava Fire

The Lava Fire continues to spread very actively to the north or northwest, pushed by 18 mph winds out of the south and south-southeast gusting up to 30 mph.

The local Emergency Coordination Center is requesting all Fire Departments to respond for structure protection. Air Attack requested four large air tankers. Firefighters are hoping to stop the fire at Highway 97.

Four air tankers have been seen over the fire recently, two MAFFS C-130’s, an RJ85, and an MD87.

This is a dangerous fire. If you are in the area and do not feel comfortable, don’t wait for someone to tell you to evacuate. Just go.

UPDATED at 1:31 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021

Posted on Facebook at about 1:17 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021:


Updated at 1:19 p.m. MDT June 28, 2021

Lava Fire
Lava Fire, at 1:13 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021.

The wind on the Lava Fire east of Weed, California has shifted as predicted, to come out of the south. The fire is now moving to the north in the general direction of Highway 97.

The shift occurred at 11:15 a.m. and since then has been from the south or south-southeast at 15 to 17 mph with gusts to 27 mph. The humidity at 12:50 was 9 percent and the temperature was 96.

This is a dangerous fire.

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office posted the following on Facebook around noon on June 28:

The Sheriff’s office has received multiple reports of individuals receiving new CODE RED alerts. Most of these messages are just alerts and no information, but some have been old CODE RED alerts sent in the past. The CODE RED system is experiencing technical difficulties and sending these messages in error. These are not actual alerts.

The Incident Management Team said any notifications about evacuations will be at their Facebook page.

9:21 a.m. PDT June 28, 2021

Lava Fire map
3-D map of the Lava Fire (in red) mapped at 11:45 p.m. PDT June 27, 2021, looking east. The white line was the perimeter at 1:44 p.m. PDT June 27, 2021.

The Lava Fire three miles east of Weed, California was very active Sunday afternoon and into the night on the lower slopes of Mt. Shasta, putting up a large convection column of smoke topped by a pyrocumulus cloud. The growth was uphill on the east side toward Mt. Shasta where a mapping flight at 1:44 p.m. found that it added about 1,000 acres to bring the size up to 1,446 acres.

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

The fire is burning through brush and timber which is interrupted by numerous patches of lava rock left over from many volcanic eruptions over the last 593,000 years. The fire is driven by very dry vegetation, spot fires, and occasional gusty winds. As it continues to spread on the west side the terrain will be increasingly steep which can accelerate the growth.

Lava Fire
Lava Fire as seen from the Lake Shastina camera at 6:01 p.m. June 27, 2021.

Firefighters made progress building fire line on the northern end of the fire Sunday. On Monday, priorities will include scouting opportunities for containment to the north, and holding the constructed lines to the south and west, cutting off fire progression into the communities. Challenges to firefighters include steep, rocky terrain, limited road access, and few water sources close to the fire. Several temporary water tanks will be installed for supplying engines and helicopters with water.

The weather forecast for the fire area on Monday could result in the fire spreading more rapidly. The prediction for 2 p.m. until 11 p.m., is for 17 mph winds out of the south gusting to 26 mph with a temperature of 95 degrees and relative humidity in the lower teens.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the area on Monday from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m., stating, “Strong, gusty wind with low relative humidity and high fire danger will likely contribute to a significant spread of new and existing fires.”

Lava Fire smoke convection column pyrocumulus
Lava Fire, smoke column topped by pyrocumulus cloud, June 27, 2021. InciWeb photo.

These conditions could push the fire north toward Highway 97. To the north and northeast there are several very large areas of lava rock which would be barriers, and generally there are lighter fuels north of the highway. But dry fuels and 26 mph winds could result in burning embers being lofted into the air causing spot fires some distance from the main fire.

Map of the Lava Fire
Map showing the location of the Lava Fire at 11:45 p.m. PDT June 27, 2021. The white line was the perimeter at 1:44 p.m. PDT June 27, 2021. North is at the top.

The Shasta-Trinity National Forest posted an update on Facebook at about 7:30 a.m. Monday saying, “No new evacuations have been issued at this time.” On June 26 they wrote, “The Siskiyou County Sheriff has issued an evacuation warning for some areas along Highway 97 north of Weed, including Angel Valley Road; Carrick Addition; and Solus Drive. People in these areas need to be prepared to evacuate if it becomes necessary.”

Air tanker 912 a DC-10 Lava Fire retardant drop
It is difficult to see, but in this photo air tanker 912, a DC-10, makes a retardant drop on the Lava Fire. Photo from the Weed2 camera at 5:51 p.m. PDT June 27, 2021.

Monday morning a Type 2 Incident Management Team, California Interagency Incident Management Team 14, assumed command of the fire.

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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.

One thought on “Lava Fire under a Red Flag Warning Monday afternoon”

  1. A few years ago while traveling on Hwy 97 in this area I noticed several miles of 50 yard wide fuel breaks were constructed alongside Hwy 97 in this area. From the photos/maps of the area it looks like the fire is heading directly toward them. I hope they’re effective.


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