Man pleads guilty of starting Klamathon Fire

The fire burned 38,008 acres in California and Oregon

Map Klamathon Fire
Map of the Klamathon Fire, July 7, 2018.

From KTVL:

The man accused of starting the fatal Klamathon Fire in July of 2018 pleaded guilty to all counts Thursday morning in a Siskiyou County courtroom.

John Colin Eagle Skoda, 32, was arrested on August 20, 2018, after a joint investigation between CAL FIRE and the Siskiyou County District Attorney’s Office.

According to Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus Skoda was camping when the fire began.

“He lit a fire in a fire ring and the wind took it. He tried to stomp it out and when that didn’t work he called authorities,” Andrus said.

The Klamathon Fire started July 5, 2018, and burned on both sides of Interstate 5 in Northern California and spread across the border into Oregon eventually blackening 38,008 acres . One man was killed, Hornbrook resident John Bermel, 72, who died in his home as the fire swept over the structure.

Firefighter Brandon Feller suffered severe burns when his engine was burned over.

Klamathon Fire burns into Oregon

Firefighter suffers severe burns when his engine is burned over

(Originally published at 6:18 a.m. PDT July 8, 2018) 

After burning 31 homes and killing one civilian in Hornbrook California, the Klamathon Fire has spread almost a mile across the state line into Oregon. Jefferson Public Radio is reporting that 10 people are missing in Siskiyou County, but the agencies have not provided any details.

Firefighter Brandon Feller suffered severe burns when his engine was burned over. He is being treated at the UC Davis burn center and they expect a full recovery. A GoFundMe account has been created for Mr. Feller.

Map Klamathon Fire
Map of the Klamathon Fire, July 7, 2018.

Evacuation orders have been issued for the communities of Hornbrook, Hilt, Colestin and Irongate Reservoir. Some locations in Oregon’s Jackson County have also been evacuated.

A wedding had to start early and was cut short when evacuation orders were issued.

Most of the fire is burning on private land but portions of the Klamath National Forest are also affected.

CAL FIRE reported Saturday that the fire has burned 22,000 acres, but our very unofficial analysis of a Saturday night mapping flight found that it has spread to an estimated 32,000 acres.

Saturday evening the 747 Supertanker made its first retardant drop of the year on the Klamathon Fire after being activated on a Call When Needed contract with CAL FIRE. From the flight tracking, it appeared that it dropped on the far north end of the fire in Oregon, and then returned to Sacramento McClellan Airport.

Klamathon Fire burns into Hornbrook, California, closes I-5

(Above: CHP photo)

(UPDATED at 12:37 p.m. PDT July 6, 2018)

From KOBI5:

A civilian has died due to the Klamathon Fire, CAL FIRE reported Friday morning. The identification of the person will be released after further investigation and notification of next-of-kin. No further information was released.

(UPDATED at 7 a.m. PDT July 6, 2018)

CAL FIRE reported at 6 a.m. MDT Friday that the Klamathon Fire along Interstate 5 just south of the Oregon border is now 8,000 acres with “multiple structures threatened and damaged or destroyed”. Evacuation orders are in effect.

The California Highway Patrol is now escorting traffic on Interstate 5 through the burned area.

(Originally published at 3:35 a.m. PDT July 6, 2018)

The Klamathon Fire that started Thursday afternoon under windy conditions in northern California spread very quickly into the small community of Hornbrook. Burning on both sides of Interstate 5 it kept going north at least another seven miles to another small town, Hilt, which is about a mile south of the Oregon border.

CAL FIRE said approximately 5,000 acres and multiple structures have burned.

Interstate 5, the major thoroughfare connecting California and Oregon, was closed Thursday night between Yreka, CA and Ashland, OR.

Klamathon Fire
Klamathon Fire, Friday night. CHP photo.
Klamathon Fire
Klamathon Fire, Friday night. CHP photo.

While the fire was growing quickly Thursday afternoon a 20 to 26 mph south wind was pushing it along the Interstate. By midnight the wind slowed to just a few miles per hour and that trend is predicted to continue Friday, but the relative humidity will still be low, around 15 percent. This should slow the spread somewhat, but now firefighters have thousands of acres of fire to contend with.

map Klamathon fire
Map showing the approximate location of the Klamathon Fire at 11:41 p.m. PDT July 5, 2018. The red dots are the most current. We hope to replace this with a better map when it becomes available.

There are no details yet about the extent of damage in the communities, but the early indications are that it could be severe.