Large fires in California have now burned more than 644,000 acres, and thousands of people remain evacuated. Nearly 13, 000 firefighters and support personnel are battling the huge blazes. Seven large fires continue to burn in southern California this morning, while three are either at or very near containment. The number of structures reported lost has risen to 3,155
Nationally, four new large fires were reported yesterday, two in Colorado, one in Oklahoma, and one in Utah. Firefighters in California were able to contain the Mountain and Xowannutuk fires yesterday.
The deepening cold trough descending from the north is expected to continue moderating conditions over the next several days. Winds will lessen over the weekend as relative humidity numbers are expected to be slightly higher. There is a chance of rain showers just to the north and south of the fire areas Saturday but they are expected to have little, if any, impact on the incidents. The Grand Prix, Simi Incident, and Piru fires all are reporting approximately 20-degree cooler temperatures and 20-percent increases in relative humidity this morning.
Daily Statistics 10/30/03
Year-to-Date Statistics 1/1/03 – 10/30/03
Number of New Large Fires 4
Year-to-date Large Fires Contained 6,426
Number of Active Large Fires 15
Fires Contained Yesterday 2
Acres from Active Fires 644,879
Number of Wildland Fire Use (WFU) Fires 3
Acres from WFU Fires 8307
States Currently Reporting Active Large Fires includes WFU:
* Arizona (1)
* California (11)
* Colorado (2)
* New Mexico (1)
* Oklahoma (1)
* Utah (2)
Arizona Number of Fires: 0 Acres: 0 New Fires: Fires Contained: 0
Number of WFU Fires: 1 WFU acres: 3,694
Rose (Grand Canyon National Park): 3,694 acres at unknown percent contained. This fire is burning 15 miles northeast of North Rim Developed Area. This will be the last report unless significant activity occurs.
California Number of Fires: 11 Acres: 635,329 New Fires: 0 Fires Contained:2
Number of WFU Fires: 1 WFU acres: 4,292
For general information concerning wildland fires in California, call 909-381-3151.
Whitmore (Shasta-Trinity Unit, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection): 1,004 acres at 90 percent contained. This fire is in timber, six miles east/northeast of Whitmore, CA. Minimal fire activity was observed.
Information: Fore more information about the Whitmore fire, call 530-225-2510
Padua (Angeles National Forest): 10,466 acres at 90 percent contained. The fire is located six miles northeast of Claremont. Minimal fire activity was observed. Evacuation orders remain in effect for the Mt. Baldy Village area.
Information: For more information about the Padua fire, call 626-821-6700 or visit the Padua web site.
Cedar (Cleveland National Forest): 251,000 acres at 15 percent contained. This fire is burning 10 miles east of Ramona. The fire continued to move in all directions in areas of brush and urban interface. continued extreme fire behavior with flame lengths over 200 feet and long range spotting was observed. Threatened residences and commercial properties have been evacuated and structure protection is a priority.
Information: For more information about the Cedar fire, call 619-590-3160 or visit the Cedar fire web site.
Simi Incident (Ventura County): 105,665 acres at 40 percent contained. This fire is in chaparral and grass, five miles north of Simi Valley. Sgtrong gusty winds caused fire activity to vary from moderate to extreme. Structure protection is a priority. An evacuation of Stevenson Ranch took place during the peak burning period.
Information: For more information about the Simi Incident, call 805-388-4276.
Old (San Bernardino National Forest): 47,960 acres at 10 percent containment. The fire is located on the north side of San Bernardino.High winds and dry conditions caused extreme fire behavior in areas of beetle killed timber and urban interface. Aggressive uphill and canyon runs with crowning and long range spotting were observed. Structure protection is a priority.
Information: For more information about the Old fire, call 909-383-5688 or visit the Pacific Southwest Region web site.
Piru (Los Padres National Forest) 68,022 acres at 30 percent contained. The fire is located 14 miles northwest of Santa Clarita. The recent weather change with highter relative humidity contributed to the decreased fire spread. Minimal fire activity was observed. Structure protection is a priority.
Information: For more information about the Piru fire, visit the Piru Fire incident web site or call 805-961-5770.
Roblar 2 (Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base): 8,592 acres at 85 percent contained. The fire is burning six miles west of Fallbrook. No new information was reported. This will be the last report unless new information is received.
Information: For more information about the Roblar 2 fire, call 760-390-2676.
Grand Prix (San Bernardino Unit, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection): 91,207 acres at 40 percent contained. The fire is located two miles west of Mira Loma. Continuous wind-driven runs caused rapid rates of spread and spotting. The evacuation order for the Oytle Creek area has been lifted. Mandatory evacuation orders are in effect for Oak Hills, Baldy Mesa, Silverwood Lake and Summitt Valley. Structure protection is a priority.
Information: For more information about the Grand Prix, call 909-383-5688 or visit the Pacific Southwest Region web site.
Paradise 2 (Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park): 1,298 acres at 98 percent contained. This fire is located seven miles northeast of Three Rivers. The fire was previously reported as part of the Kaweah – Kern Complex. Moderate fire activity was reported.
Information: For more information about the Paradise 2 fire, visit the National Park Service’s Fire News web site
Paradise (Monte Vista Unit, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection): 49,800 acres at 20 percent contained. This fire is located six miles northeast of Escondido. Extreme fire conditions resulted in sustained hard runs. Structure protection is in place for numerous residences.
Information: For more information about the Paradise, call 619-590-3160 or visit the Paradise fire web site.
Albanita/Hooker (Sequoia National Forest): This 4,292 acre lightning Wildland Fire Use (WFU) fire is being managed to accomplish resource objectives. The fire is located ten miles north-northwest of Kennedy Meadows.
Colorado Number of Fires: 2 Acres: 3,800 New Fires: 2 Fires Contained: 0
NEW Colorado (Boulder County): 3,500 acre fire is burning is Douglas fir, ponderosa pine and grass, one half mile west/northwest of Jamestown. continuous winds with gusts near 50 mph and varying directions caused rapid fire growth. The communities of Jamestown and Lefthand Canyon have been evacuated.
NEW Cherokee Ranch (Pike and San isabel National Forest): 300 acres at 5 percent contained. This fires is in an urban interface area with ponderosa pine, oak and grass, two miles east of Kellytown. Active fire with running, torching and spotting was observed. Over 100 reisdences have been evacuated.
New Mexico Number of Fires: 1 Acres: 250 New Fires: 0 Fires Contained: 0
Ski Run (Lincoln National Forest): 250 acres at 30 percent contained. The fire is six miles northwest of Ruidoso. Minimal fire activity occurred.
Oklahoma Number of Fires: 1 Acres: 1,000 New Fires: 1 Fires Contained: 0
NEW Phinneyhill (Osage Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs): 1,000 acres at 20 percent contained. This fire is in grass and timber, eight miles west of Wynona. Extreme fire activity was reported. Structure protection is in place for two residences.
Utah Number of Fires: 1 Acres: 4,500 New Fires: 1 Fires Contained: 0
Number of WFU Fires: 1 Acres: 321
Cherry Creek 2 (Uinta National Forest): 4,500 acres at 30 percent contained. The fire is ten miles east/northeast of Springville. Major fire growth was due to winds associated with a passing cold front.
Swift Creek (Ashley National Forest): This 321-acre lightning-caused fire is being managed to accomplish resource objectives. This will be the last narrative report unless significant activity occurs.
LOS ANGELES – Southern California wildfires turned into an “Apocalypse Now” as a firestorm raced through the mountain resort of Lake Arrowhead destroying an estimated 250 homes in minutes and leaving officials fearing that the fiery rage would not abate yesterday.
Fire officials said the only hope they had for preventing a repeat of Wednesday’s disaster on Lake Arrowhead was incoming fog that was expected to creep in from the ocean and envelop the mountains by the week’s end.
“The good news is that a little too late the weather is changing on us. … We will still have trouble (yesterday) in the higher elevations, but by Friday we will get higher humidity … and this will help the fire suppression effort,” said Andrea Tuttle, the head of the state’s Forestry Department.
It was Tuttle who said that the San Bernardino Mountains, the winter playground for nearby Los Angeles, could erupt in flames of Biblical proportions because of a huge infestation of minute bark beetles which killed 70 percent of the trees around Lake Arrowhead and surrounding communities.
“Lake Arrowhead is the perfect storm of factors combining to produce a really dangerous situation – three or four years of drought, a bark beetle infestation, decades of fire suppression and really widespread residential development all mixed up together,” said Jay Watson of the Wilderness Society.
The flames that raced up the canyon leading to Lake Arrowhead, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles, reached heights of 300 feet, twice the size of the area’s once majestic pine and fir trees. “It looks like the moon. There is nothing there. What used to be trees and houses is gone … total devastation,” one firefighter told local television station KNBC.
California Forestry Department official Tom O’Keefe called the situation a nightmare and an “all consuming blaze” that veteran firefighters have seldom, if ever, encountered.
Meanwhile, officials reported the death of the first firefighter battling nine major and eight smaller offshoots that have turned Southern California into a disaster area.
The fireman, believed assigned to San Diego County from the San Francisco Bay, died while fighting a blaze outside the historic gold mining town of Julian. Three colleagues were also injured, including at least one with severe burns.
Officials said that as of Wednesday night there were 20 confirmed deaths, including two in adjoining areas in Mexico and that a total of 2,427 homes were destroyed along with 634,000 acres.
California insurance industry officials said claims so far from the nine major fires and eight offshoots are likely to reach more than $1 billion in insured losses, making the disaster at least the second most costly wildfire in California history.
Close to 13,000 firefighters, many of them bone weary from days without rest, were battling hot spots that deceptively smoldered quietly for hours only to roar back up, fueled by sudden wind changes.