The Lava Beds National Monument was closed Thursday after the wind-driven Caldwell Fire grew onto the southern border of the park.
The fire was at 7,903 acres as of Friday afternoon and is one of 15 lightning-caused fires burning on the Modoc National Forest nicknamed the “July Complex.”
The smoke plumes were visible from the Klamath area Thursday and Friday, and Forest Service spokesperson Ken Sandusky said thunderstorms created winds that blew the blaze in every direction.
Sandusky said the fire is burning in an area called “gasoline alley,” which he said features challenging topography.
Medicine Lake and surrounding U.S. Forest Service roads are closed while crews fight the fire.
The dangerous weather, which included Wednesday lightning on top of Thursday winds, has triggered four other fires on the Modoc National Forest to grow to considerable size. The Dalton and Lone Fires burned together Thursday for a combined 2,500 acres. The Allen Fire was last reported at 800 acres and the Canyon Fire reaches 234 acres before becoming 100% contained.
Although the Caldwell Fire is several miles from the buildings at the Lava Beds National Monument, such as the visitors center and the residences for staff, spokesperson Marc Blackburn said that due to the unpredictability of the fire and its proximity they closed and evacuated the park until further notice Thursday.
Blackburn said they’re asking the public to stay away form the lava beds for now.
The Ben Young Fire near Paisley was last reported at 1,249 acres and is 55% contained. The northern boundary of Forest Service road closures was reduced south Friday morning, reopening Marster Spring Campground, Chewaucan Crossing Campground and Jones Crossing Forest Camp. Forest Roads 3510-018 off Clover Flat Road, the 3510 Road between the Forest Boundary west to Forest Road 33, and Road 3509 between Forest Road 3510 and the 28 Road remain closed along with Moss Meadow Horse Camp, Moss Pass Trailhead and Campground, and the section of the Fremont National Recreation Trail within the closure area.
The Gold Fire in Lassen County is burning at 21,000 acres and is 40% contained. The fire has destroyed seven structures and threatens 25. Highway 139 is closed from Susanville to Termo Grasshopper.
The neighboring Hog Fire near Susanville is 9,545 acres and is 45% contained. SR-36 and SR-44 are back open, although smoke may be visible while traveling.