Lava Fire runs 8 miles north, crosses Highway 97

Northeast of Weed, California

Updated at 8:24 p.m. PDT June 29, 2021

Lava Fire
The map shows heat on the Lava Fire detected by satellites. The red dots were detected at 2:54 p.m. PDT June 29, 2021. Light vegetation that burned and cooled before the next satellite overflight can’t be detected from 200 miles above the Earth.

The map above shows heat that was detected on the Lava Fire by satellites orbiting more than 200 miles above the Earth. This system is not nearly as accurate as mapping from a helicopter or using infrared on a fixed wing aircraft, but it can give us an idea of where a fire is.

The fire was active on Tuesday, putting up a great deal of smoke, but not nearly to the extent as on Monday. From the available cameras, most of the action appeared to be south of Highway 97.

There is little official information being made available about the fire itself.

Here is a link to a map with the latest evacuations and road closures from the Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services:

Fire history in vicinity of Lava Fire
Fire history in vicinity of Lava Fire, for which the perimeter on June 28, 2021 is shown. Lava perimeter supplied by Incident Management Team.

The map above shows the history of wildfires during the last 30 years in the vicinity of the current Lava Fire.

It is possible that the 2006 Hotlum Fire influenced the spread of the Lava fire, splitting into two heads. But there is also a field of lava in that area just south of Highway 97 which on satellite photos appears to be lightly vegetated, so it’s difficult to say from afar.

At Wildfire Today we covered the Boles Fire which burned through Weed in 2014.

Updated at 11:32 a.m. PDT June 29, 2021

Tuesday morning the Incident Management Team for the Lava Fire near Weed, California reported that the fire had burned 13,300 acres. Judging from the map, (see below) that number is likely to change.

Lava Fire
Lava Fire as seen from the Hammond Ranch camera, looking northeast at 9:19 a.m. PDT June 29, 2021 at the area north of Mt. Shasta.

While the fire was burning a battle broke out between a person who was told he could not enter the fire area and law enforcement officers. The Mount Shasta Vista subdivision that was threatened by the fire is the home of hundreds of marijuana grows.

From the Modesto Bee:

The officers tried to stop a man from driving into the Mount Shasta Vista subdivision after the fire crossed Highway 97 north of Weed, Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue said. The 1,641-lot subdivision has been converted into a massive network of marijuana grows run primarily by Hmong families.

“They made contact with the driver. And at some point, the driver exhibited a firearm, a handgun, and pointed it at the officers,” LaRue told The Sacramento Bee.

“Based upon preliminary information, it appears that there might have been a couple rounds fired from the suspect’s firearm.”

The officers, which included a sheriff’s deputy and local police officers, returned fire, killing the man, LaRue said. The dead man’s name wasn’t released. Darren Duck, who lives across Highway A-12 from where the officers shot the suspect, said he heard close to 60 rounds fired.

The newspaper said that during the fire the growers were hostile to firefighters. Not feeling safe, the firefighters did not enter the area.

The last time the city of Weed was seriously threatened by a fire was in 2014 when 157 residences and 8 commercial structures burned in the Boles Fire. It was started by an arsonist south of the community and was pushed by a strong southeast wind gusting over 40 mph.

6:56 a.m. PDT June 29, 2021

Lava Fire Map
Map showing the APPROXIMATE location of the Lava Fire at 1:22 a.m. PDT June 29, 2021. This map is an early draft after the 8 mile run the fire made June 28.

The Lava Fire east of Weed, California, pushed by strong winds Monday afternoon ran 8 miles to the north.

It crossed a railroad, Highway 97, then burned five miles further north-northeast across flat ground. At 1:48 a.m. Tuesday it was at Chipmunk Road in Montague, a half mile south of the A12 road.

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

No information has been released by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, the Incident Management Team, or the Shasta-Trinity National Forest about residences or property that were impacted by the fire after it crossed Highway 97. As this was written at 6 a.m. Tuesday, the Incident Management Team’s InciWeb page had not been updated in 20 hours.

There has been no official estimate released about the size of the fire, but by our figuring it is likely more than 4,000 acres.

Lava Fire
Lava Fire, looking southeast from the Lake Shastina camera at 5:57 a.m. PDT June 29, 2021.

At 6 a.m. PDT Tuesday cameras showed active fire on the hill east of Carrick, east of Hilltop Lane.

Lava Fire
You may be able to see in this photo an air tanker making a drop on the Lava Fire at 8:16 p.m. June 28, 2021. Captured by the camera at Lake Shastina.

The fire area was under a Red Flag Warning 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.”

The strong winds experienced Monday afternoon had been predicted at least 20 hours in advance. Sunday at 4:47 p.m. we wrote about it on Wildfire Today:

On Monday that breeze will be replaced in the afternoon by strong winds out of the south at 17 mph gusting to 28 while the temperature rises to 96 degrees with 15 percent relative humidity…. a recipe for significant fire growth unless firefighters can get a line around the fire before noon.

That forecast from the National Weather Service was exactly right.

Lava Fire satellite photo smoke
GOES 17 satellite photo showing smoke from the Lava Fire at 5:26 p.m. PDT June 28, 2021.

According to the fire’s InciWeb page, the fire started at about 7:45 a.m. June 25 on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. It has been managed since June 28 by a Type 2 Incident Management Team, California Interagency Incident Management Team 14.

We will update this article as more information becomes available.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

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.

16 thoughts on “Lava Fire runs 8 miles north, crosses Highway 97”

  1. last year I was lucky (?) enough to get an X-1 deer tag.. my son & I thoroughly scouted Tennant/Brat area, then Medicine Laje highlands/Black Mountain/Border Mountain/Payne’s Springs snd the bench lands extending to Hwy-139.. I have GPS & property ownership maps.. it’s unbelievable up there!! 40-60 year old cuts where broken trees, limbs lie tinder dry.. ground(?) is 24″ of crushed dry limbs and needles..

    USFS had better hire 5 times the assets because if lightning ignites forest on E side of mountain while 20-35 mph winds blow, the fire will travel 60 miles to Hwy 139 and Devil’s Garden..

    Hell.. it might burn to CA/NV line

  2. I agree whole heatedly with Bradley Boyden. The fire could have been contained if the US Forest Service would have responded quickly once reported. This fire started on forest service land and does not involve CalFire until the fire gets closer to personal property, homes, and businesses or assistance is requested by the forest service. But as usually the forest service sits on their back side letting the fire grow so they can collect a bigger pay check. What a disgrace. Way to go US Forest Circus.

  3. As a one time smokejumper from the 60s and 70s, Forest Service (FS) TOP MANAGEMENT has always been an issue, and still is today. The top end is more political oriented than resource (manpower and forest management) oriented. Just look at how FS firefighters are treated and trained in comparison to other agencies, and how our forest are being managed for fire. Having kept abreast of wildfire activities these past fifty I’m just sayin’.

  4. In my thoughts the cal fire people, didn’t respond to the situation, as soon as it happened, on Saturday it was only 10 acres now totally out of control , for sha.e on them . Makes us very angry !

    1. Wake up people ! This fire is /was the responsibility of the USFS ! Not CALFIRE ! If it was CALFIRE responsibility, they WOULD HAVE JUMPED ON IT ! You people do not understand what is happening, The FS management does not care about fires until it hits the fan and the public gets pissed off ! Happens every year and YOU SHEEP ARE SURPRISED WHEN IT HAPPENS NEAR YOU , WTH !
      Fire fighting needs to be taken away fro their responsibility, PERIOD !
      They don’t pay them a living wage, screw their people EVERYTIME they can and hell,, they don’t even respect their people enough to call them FIREFIGHTERS, instead calling them Forest Technicians, All the while they risk their lives like ALL other FF’s in the world and the then after their deaths , they screw their survivors when they attempt to collect the fed public safety benefits by saying that they are listed as FF’s. !!!!!
      Can you tell that I have no respect for their management ! Screw them and Darth Vader, he started all this BS by screwing over the four at the 30 mile fire !

      1. Sir, I agree with you entirely. Fires are the biggest money makers on this state. I hope LOTS of people get passed off.
        Big government stinks.

        1. Now it is. I reported it Thursday on USFS. Then nothing really got going happened until it approached SRA on hwy 97. Now it’s a unified effort with cal trans.

  5. Interestingly, there were no lightning events on Friday morning of June 25. The sky was clear on Friday morning. I was in Lake Shastina at my home there Thursday evening during the major thunderstorm which passed through the area. I witnessed a major lightning strike hit the area at about 7:45 where the fire was reportedly started. Later that evening after darkness settled in, I was able to see a glow coming from that area along with smoke. My location is about six miles from the fire location and Weed. I assumed the fire would be seen by someone much closer and properly reported especially since there is a Cal Fire office and site right there in Weed. The smoke from the fire was visible early the next morning, however it took quite some time before any helicopter activity occurred over the area. To my knowledge, only one helicopter (with bucket) worked the fire on Friday, 25th. With mores serious attention given to this fire early on, I do believe it could have been extinguished on Friday.

    1. Well there is less resources this year than there use to be, if you ever were a Hotshot for the USFS. then if you were just sitting at your home, unless you have been a Hotshot, Smoke Jumper, Helitack, handcrew, and truck crew or forest tech which they call them these days, then you must not know how fast fire can spread in minutes or seconds. So helicopters, airtanker’s, trucks, and fire crew’s can’t just beam right up like on star trek. If the residents are crying give them a shovel and let help, and see how hard it is!

  6. Bill, looks like another part of the story is the number of marijuana grow greenhouses in the path of the fire, ironically near Weed. This comes from the Sacramento Bee (what I can see before the ‘pay wall’ comes up):
    The Sacramento Bee
    Homes, thousands of marijuana greenhouses threatened by Lava Fire in Northern California
    The Lava Fire ignited when lightning struck Friday morning on U.S. Forest … to 8,000 people live tending 5,000 to 6,000 marijuana grow sites.
    14 hours ago

  7. This is the significant part of your article:
    “No information has been released by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, the Incident Management Team, or the Shasta-Trinity National Forest about residences or property that were impacted by the fire after it crossed Highway 97. As this was written at 6 a.m. Tuesday, the Incident Management Team’s InciWeb page had not been updated in 20 hours.”
    As of this moment it still hasn’t been.
    At the community meeting last night residents were angry and complaining about the handling of the fire. But I told all those agencies you mentioned that these people probably would not have been angry if they had been informed all along. The agencies are failing to communicate in any reasonable fashion. Because of the nature of our landscape we all have front row seats of the fire in our yards.. We get info ONCE a day from Inciweb. Occasionally the Sheriffs department posts evacuation warnings and orders. Thats IT. Thats the only info we get unless we read your articles or scour Twitter for amateur scanner and fire posts. While this may be 9-5 for the Forest Service its not for us. This is not my first rodeo with wildfire living here. It IS the worst as far as communication goes.
    Please keep reporting. Otherwise I won’t know whats happening in the fire 2 miles from my house. Ironically the ICP and portapotties and food trucks are right down the street as well. ?


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