Salt Fire up to 12,430 acres with 20% containment. What we know Tuesday.
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The Salt Fire started burning last Wednesday east of Interstate 5 near the Salt Creek exit, about 25 miles north of Redding. Firefighters working the fire over the Fourth of July weekend continued to make progress building containment lines, but the number of acres keeps increasing.
Investigators are searching for a vehicle they believe started the fire when a hot piece of metal flew off it onto the side of Interstate 5, sparking the blaze.
The first call about the Salt Fire was reported about 1:40 p.m. last Wednesday and right away forced nearby residents to evacuate and the freeway to temporarily shut down. At last count, the fire has destroyed 41 structures, including 27 homes and 14 outbuildings.
Check back on this story for updates.
As efforts continue to contain the Salt Fire, crews from Pacific Gas and Electric are working to repair damaged infrastructure and restore power to those who can safely accept it.
PG&E is rebuilding about 50 fire-damaged poles and power lines, according to a news release from the utility.
Nearly 956 customers who lost power on June 30 had it restored in four days. As the fire progressed Monday, PG&E reported 73 customers in the Gilman Road area have also lost power, according to the news release.
Customers returning to homes in Gregory Creek Acres or elsewhere in Lakehead can call PG&E at 800-743-5000 and ask their power be reconnected.
— Matt Brannon
The Salt Fire is continuing to grow, increasing to 12,430 acres by 7:35 a.m. on Tuesday, according to an information page on the fire compiled by Shasta-Trinity National Forest officials. That's an increase of 730 acres from Monday night.
The blaze remains 20% contained, according to fire officials.
— Michele Chandler
The Salt Fire grew by more than 2,500 acres from Sunday to Monday as the fire was most active on its northwest corner, Shasta-Trinity National Forest officials said Monday morning.
On Monday the blaze was 11,693 acres and had inched up to 20% containment. The fire had been 9,162 acres as of Sunday and had 15% containment.
While the flames continued moving to the northwest toward Fenders Ferry, crews on Sunday night were able to guide the fire down toward the Sacramento River to try and contain it. Bulldozers were scheduled to go to the Fenders Ferry and Gilman Road areas to put a priority on structure defense, officials said.
More than 730 fire personnel have been assigned to the fire and more were on their way Monday.
Evacuation orders and warnings remain in place for communities near the fire, officials said.
Forest Service officials estimated Saturday that 41 structures have been destroyed. The initial damage assessment represents 27 residences and 14 outbuildings. Another four outbuildings were damaged.
The blaze continues to hold on the west and southwest sides. Crews were able to build additional fire line off of Buck’s Peak to the east/southeast edge, fire officials said.
"The fire is very visible from Interstate 5 and firefighters ask the public to be extra cautious when driving in the area," Forest Service officials said.
The fire is burning short, dry grass, chaparral up to 6 feet tall and timber. Crews are watching for short-range spotting from blowing embers and group torching of trees in the forest
Fire managers said they plan to open old dozer lines from the Hirz Fire, which started Aug. 9, 2018, and eventually burned 46,150 acres before it was fully contained in September 2018. The fire also is burning in the area of the 2018 Delta Fire.
— Mike Chapman
Crews plan to spend the next two days building indirect fire lines at the Hirz fire scar, where officials say the fire is "actively burning." The area contains high-value timberland and recently planted plantations.
A stagnant weather pattern isn't helping firefighters as hot and dry conditions persist due to a high-pressure zone.
Southerly winds from light to breezy are expected in the afternoons while light, downslope winds will occur at night.
Salt Fire Incident Commander Mike Minton had a message Monday evening for people enduring the blaze east of Lakehead, saying the situation will get better but, in the meantime, local residents and I-5 travelers will continue to see fire, flames and smoke.
Minton spoke on a Facebook video on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest’s page along with Forest Supervisor Rachel Birkey.
The video was a prelude to a community meeting about the fire set for the Lions Club building in Lakehead.
As of Monday evening, the Salt Fire was approaching 12,000 acres and was 20% contained.
“We’re hoping to increase those containment numbers in the days to come,” Minton said.
The firefighters’ two main priorities were on the northwest corner of the fire, just east of the Sacramento River and east of the freeway north of Lakehead, and the south end of the fire.
“We’re pretty focused to try to achieve containment in that (northern) portion of the fire just as (fast) as we can,” he said.
Minton said the south edge is where there’s scattered residences just north of Gilman Road and power lines. Protecting the freeway also is a goal.
“Crews are heavily engaged down in the southern portion of the fire to protect those structures and homes as well as continuing to defend the I-5 corridor,” Minton said.
On Monday evening, the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation warning for residents on Gilman Road from Old Mill Road to Top of the Hill Road.
Deputies said increased fire activity in the area was threatening homes and other buildings.
Hot-shot crews are on the remote northeast part of the blaze where crews are getting a break as the fire was moving into the 2018 footprint of the 2018 Hirz Fire.
“Fire behavior has reduced pretty (dramatically) where it’s hit that somewhat recent burn scar,” Minton said.
— Mike Chapman
Smoke outlook for Tuesday
Wildfire smoke that's trapped in the valleys is expected to slowly lift from 9 to 10 a.m., but the blaze will send up more smoke as it becomes more active in the afternoon, officials said.
"Significant smoke production is expected," they said.
The smoke is forecast to drift to the north and northeast in the afternoon with the heaviest concentrations between midnight and 9 a.m.
The smoke will hover over Lake Shasta and north Redding before it lifts in the late morning.
"Smoke should lift enough during the afternoon to limit significant impacts or health concerns," officials said.
— Mike Chapman
Evacuation orders, road closures
An evacuation center is at Central Valley High School in the city of Shasta Lake.
The Salt Fire is burning off Gilman Road and Coal Creek Road, north of the city of Shasta Lake.
EVACUATION ORDERS (as of 7:20 a.m. Monday)
- Fenders Ferry Road between I-5 and Gilman Road
- Zola Drive
- Cordes Court
- Solus Campground Road
- Toms Head Road
- Antlers View Road
- Old Mill Road
- Gregory Creek Road
- Areas east of I-5 from the north end of Riverview Drive to the south end of Antlers Road
- Delta School Road
- Delta Road
- West of I-5 from the south end of Lakeshore Drive to the north end of Lakeshore Drive
- Fenders Ferry Road at Dog Creek Road
- Gilman Road at the top of the Hill Road
- Riverview Drive at the I-5 on/off ramp and Lakeshore Drive at the I-5 on/off ramp
Highway 97 has reopened after it was closed due to the Lava and Tennant fires in Siskiyou County.
The California Department of Transportation says conditions on Highway 97 are subject to change without prior notice due to fire activity.
"Please be aware that fire and Caltrans personnel continue to work on and around the highway. Motorists are urged to slow down and drive carefully," Caltrans District 2 said on its Facebook page Monday evening.
The Klamath National Forest Service is fighting the Lava Fire northeast of Weed and the Tennant Fire farther to the northeast.
The lightning-caused Lava Fire slightly grew to 25,001 acres as of Tuesday morning and was 71% contained. Firefighters made significant progress on Sunday and Monday as the fire was only 39% contained as of Sunday morning after burning 24,752 acres, officials said.
The Lava Fire is still burning in pockets of vegetation of timber on the northwest-facing slopes of Mt. Shasta.
The fire spread over Union Pacific's rail lines and workers have begun reconstructing damaged trestles.
The Tennant Fire was at 10,614 on Tuesday morning from 10,541 acres Monday morning, with containment increasing to 57%.
That's up from 10,407 acres Sunday with 29% containment.
The fire has burned five buildings, including two homes, and threatened several hundred more. The fire's cause is under investigation.
Between the Tennant, Lava and Salt fires, the federal government has so far spent some $20.6 million fighting the three blazes, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Mike Chapman is an award-winning reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash. Support local journalism by subscribing today.