Explosive growth of the Caldwell Fire near Lava Beds National Monument has slowed and fire crews spent Thursday increasing containment of one of the nation’s largest fires.
As of press time Thursday, the Caldwell Fire was estimated at 79,316 acres in size. The Gillem and Caldwell fires, both lightning-caused, merged Wednesday and will now be managed and referred to only as the Caldwell Fire.
Fire managers estimated they had about 45 percent containment on that fire, despite the fact that a flag warning was in effect much of Thursday afternoon and will remain in effect until 8 p.m. Friday. Weather conditions Friday are forecast to be hot and dry with gusty winds. Skies should be sunny during the day, with temperatures in the mid-90s and low humidity.
A mandatory evacuation remains in place for the Medicine Lake Recreation Area. The Lava Beds National Monument remains closed.
Firefighters made progress Wednesday and Thursday on control lines and burning operations, especially on the moderately active south and southwest sides of the fire.
On the north end, the fire burned around edge of Tule Lake, but did not burn farm fields nearby. On the west side of the fire, the 49 road (Lassen Volcanic Scenic Byway) is still holding as a fire break. Firefighting near the tracks has been assisted by BNSF’s unique fire train, equipped with large water tanks and powerful hoses.
In order to keep mitigating COVID-19 risks, fire managers have established two new fire camps, allowing personnel to spread out and maintain social distancing recommendations to the best extent possible.
Allen and Dalton: The Allen (1,035 acres) and Dalton (1,367) fires will soon be in monitor-only status. Firefighters are performing suppression repair activities, and managers are planning to transfer command of these fires back to the Modoc National Forest.
Tightened restrictions in Northern California
The Bureau of Land Management will implement fire restrictions for public lands managed in Lassen, Modoc, Plumas, Sierra, Shasta and Siskiyou counties in California and in Washoe County, Nevada. The restrictions go into effect Saturday, Aug. 1, and will remain in effect until further notice.
The fire restrictions prohibit all campfires and use of barbecues. Portable stoves and lanterns using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed. Users must have a valid California campfire permit. Visitors should be extremely careful with their use. Wildland visitors should carry shovels, water and fire extinguishers.
Other restrictions include:
• No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or at a designated, developed recreation site, or other designated area.
• No motor vehicles or internal combustion engines off established roads or trails. Chainsaws equipped with spark arresters may be used until 1 p.m. daily.
• No possession or use of fireworks, including California fire marshal-approved “safe and sane” devices.