California: Two fires east of Redding double in size

Map of Eiler and Bald Fires
Map of Eiler and Bald Fires, 11 p.m., August 2, 2014. (click to enlarge)

Two fires about 40 miles east of Redding, California doubled in size on Saturday. These fires are part of the reason the number of burned acres in California’s National Forest has quadrupled since Wednesday.

The Eiler and Bald Fires were both very active with each devouring an additional 16,000 to 17,000 acres.

Eiler Fire

The Eiler Fire, 40 miles east of Redding and 4 miles southeast of Burney, has blackened 23,000 acres. On Saturday it was very active on the north, southeast, and west sides, moving onto the east slope of Burney Mountain. Evacuations have been issued for Johnson Park, Cassel, Big Eddie Estates. An advisory has been issued for the town of Burney. The fire has crossed Highway 89 which remains closed from the junction of Hwy 44 and 89 north to Hwy 299.

The fire behavior was described by firefighters as “running, torching, and long range spotting, with rapid rates of spread downhill to the north and east.”

An engine from the Redding Fire Department was damaged in the Eiler Fire.

Redding FD engine damaged in Eiler Fire
Redding Fire Department engine sustained damaged in Eiler Fire. Photo by KRCR.

Bald Fire

The Bald Fire is 52 miles east of Redding, 13 miles east of Burney, and 7 miles east of the Eiler Fire. It doubled in size Saturday, spreading through drought-affected six-foot tall brush and patches of timber, growing from 17,000 acres to 34,000. Late on Saturday it was exhibiting extreme fire behavior, most actively spreading on the south and southwest sides.

Bald and Day Fires
Bald Fire with the Day Fire in the background. July 31, 2014. InciWeb photo.

BNSF Railroad is providing a two-car fire train to assist with fire suppression along the railroad tracks. In 2010 we wrote about fire trains. Here is an excerpt:

In the United States firefighting trains are frequently called water cars or fire trains. Usually a fire train consists of an engine, several tank cars carrying 7,000 to 14,000 gallons of water each, and sometimes a caboose for transporting the employees or firefighters to operate the fire equipment. Most fire trains carry an assortment of fire equipment including hose reels, hand tools, nozzles, and hose. Sometimes each tank car will have it’s own pump and master stream nozzles, and they often have the ability connect the tank cars together with hoses so that the water can be shared between the cars. When a fire train has an engine at each end, the train can be split so that both ends of a trestle can be protected at the same time.

firefighting train
A firefighting train on the White Lightning Complex Fire in August, 2010 near Warm Springs, Oregon.

Lightning-caused fires spread during hot California weather

Northern California fires
Northern California fires Saturday morning, August 2, 2014. The red icons represent heat that was detected by a satellite over the last 24 hours. (Click to enlarge.)

Firefighters in northern California are battling fires that were started after almost 1,000 lightning strikes hammered the area this week. High temperatures that reached 108 degrees in Redding on Friday contributed to some of the significant spread of the fires.

Brief descriptions of some of the fires submitted by fire managers included words and phrases like “extreme fire behavior with wind-driven runs and long-range spotting”; “running with torching and long-range spotting”; “running with torching and crowning”; “crowning”; “active fire behavior with crowning”; and”structures threatened”.

Bald and Day Fires
Bald Fire with the Day Fire in the background. July 31, 2014. InciWeb photo.

Some of the larger and more active fires in northern California:

  • Day Fire, 12 miles north of McArthur, evacuations in effect, 12,500 acres.
  • Bald Fire, 9 miles northeast of Hat Creek, evacuations in effect, 17,977 acres.
  • Eiler Fire, 6 miles northwest of Old Station; evacuations in effect; the fire crossed Highway 89, which is now closed; 6,932 acres.
  • White Fire, (part of the July Complex) 7 miles southeast of Sawyers Bar, 2,500 acres.
  • Beaver Complex, 18 mile southeast of Ashland, Oregon. Most of this complex is the 11,524-acre Oregon Gulch Fire that burned across the Oregon/California border. It grew by 6,623 acres on Friday.

In central California on the Sierra National Forest 18 miles east of Oakhurst, the French Fire has burned 11,466 acres in steep, rugged terrain. The 4,689-acre El Portal Fire outside Yosemite Valley continues to spread to the north approaching Highway 120.