Lost hikers set signal fire, attracts firefighters

missing hikers
Cody Hopkins, 14 (left) and Joseph Hopkins, 54 (right)

After an extensive five-day search two missing hikers were found in a very remote area of the Marble Mountain Wilderness Area in the Klamath National Forest 41 air miles southwest of Yreka, California. They were rescued after the smoke from their signal fire attracted firefighters.

When Cody Hopkins, 14, and his father, Joseph Hopkins, 54, did not return home on June 29 as planned, Mr. Hopkins’ wife notified the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department. With the assistance of many other agencies, the Department searched from June 30th until July 4th when the hikers were found a considerable distance from the initial search location. Both father and son were in relatively good shape considering their ordeal and were reunited with family members shortly after their rescue.

As of Wednesday night the fire, now named “Wilderness”, has burned 46 acres in the footprint of a 2008 fire. On Wednesday 18 smokejumpers were dispatched and two hotshot crews are on scene or en route.

Wilderness Fire map
3-D map of the Wilderness Fire perimeter at 11:50 p.m. July 6, 2016. Data provided by USFS.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Kurt.

New Mexico: Signal fire northeast of Silver City

(UPDATED at 9:25 a.m. MDT, May 13, 2014)

Map of the Signal fire, 10 pm MDT, May 12, 2014
Map of the perimeter of the Signal fire, 10 p.m. MDT, May 12, 2014

The Signal Fire 12 miles north of Silver City, New Mexico is now is now estimated at 4,700 acres with no containment. Although fire activity on Monday was significantly less than on Sunday, the fire continued to spread to the north and east. Several air tankers, including a DC-10, supported firefighters on the ground by dropping numerous loads of retardant on the perimeter of the fire.

A Southwest Area Type 2 Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire Monday.


(Originally published at 2:31 p.m. CDT, May 12, 2014; updated at 7:30 p.m. CDT, May 12, 2014 with a new map)

Firefighters are battling a new wildfire, the Silver Fire, 12 miles north of Silver City, New Mexico on the Gila National Forest. It started May 11 and has grown to about 3,000 acres with no containment. Sunday, the fire exhibited rapid fire spread and torching with spotting up to ¼ mile. The fire is burning in timber with a grass understory. 

A Type 2 Incident Management Team is en route and is expected to assume command at 6 p.m. Monday.

Map Signal Fire
Map of the Signal Fire, showing heat detected by a satellite at 2:57 p.m. MDT, May 12, 2014. The location of the icons can be as much as a mile in error.

Resources assigned to the fire include:

  • Crews: 1 Hotshot Crew and an unknown number of smokejumpers;
  • 3 Engines
  • Aircraft:
    • 8 air tankers: including one very large air tanker, 3 Type 2 air tankers, and 4 Single Engine Air Tankers;
    • 5 helicopters
    • 3 air attack, 1 Aerial Supervision Module, and 1 lead plane

Residents in the vicinity of Signal Peak have evacuated. Highway 15 has been closed from the Ben Lilly Monument north to the Gravel Pit near Wildhorse Mesa. Firefighters are employing full suppression tactics to contain and extinguish the fire.

The weather forecast for the fire area on Monday calls for 56 degrees, winds of 15 mph gusting to 23, and a relative humidity of 16 percent. Tuesday should be much cooler, more humid, with decreasing winds. The nearest Remote Automatic Weather Station is the Gila Center RAWS, 20 miles to the north.