Even with an estimated containment of 81 percent on the Monument fire and 73 percent on the River Complex Monday, and the possibility of wet conditions on the way this week, it still may be too early to declare those fires snuffed.

In a short report Wednesday, Sept. 29, Operations Section Chief Mark Jamieson said “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

That same morning, the first notification of lifted evacuation statuses around the county came from the Sheriff’s Office.

“All areas affected by the Monument fire in Trinity County are reduced out of any orders or warnings,” a TCSO release stated. “Hyampom Road will remain closed until hazardous conditions are remedied.”

Jamieson said Monday that remaining fires were moving very slowly but said dry weather conditions were driving all actions. He said Monday had been the driest day since before the rains last week.

“An increase in fire behavior is expected due to an increase in winds. Fuels have been drying for several days, any lingering heat on the line would pop up,” according to the Inciweb information system Oct. 1. “Smoldering in areas of deep duff, stumps, dead and down expected. Increased potential for re-burn in areas of needle cast. Roll out in steeper terrain probable.”

As the River Complex wound down and crews continued to monitor the lines last week, some fire personnel opted to sleep near the fires to reduce morning travel time and to maximize their efficacy. According to a release from Klamath National Forest Thursday, helicopters were being used to drop food and supplies to fire personnel camped out in those areas.

As of Thursday, the fire was staffed by 843 personnel, 23 hand crews, 15 helicopters, 13 water tenders, five excavators, nine masticators and two Bobcats.

This week

The National Weather Service predicted a chance of rain on Wednesday and more by the weekend. According to Inciweb, the approaching cold front may produce high winds over some areas of the county and bring additional smoke to some. However, due to the broken terrain and remoteness of the fire location, the heat sources pose little threat of fire spread.

As of Monday, the Monument fire had burned 223,001 acres and the River Complex had burned 198,692 acres.

A thankful resident

One resident wrote to the Journal to thank Wildfire Defense Systems for saving her home during the Monument fire. 

“I watched the fire spread down the mountain and gulches to below my house,” Carole Luca of Hayfork wrote. “I figured it was gone, especially since when fire caused me to evacuate several years ago local fire agencies said my property was indefensible due to limited water availability. It was an unbelievable relief to meet Mr. Scott and his team at the highway below the fire and hear him say: ‘We just saved your home.’” 

Luca said the effort also saved some orchard and landscape trees there.

“We found a partial crumpled note from them: “...Owner, ...the fire came up the draw hot and fast and we...”  It sounded like they were about to abandon the front. But they DIDN’T! You are a gift from heaven.”

During the fires’ most active days, several white utility trucks from WDD could be seen going in and out of active fire areas.

According to the State Farm Insurance website, their collaboration with Wildfire Defense Systems means that policyholders’ homes can be fortified against fire.

“During an active wildfire, if Wildfire Defense Systems Inc. detects that a home insured by State Farm is at risk, they will deploy a mitigation team that will check in with Incident Command to gain access to the incident and carry out the mission of mitigating wildfire risk at the policyholder’s property,” the website states. “This team will determine appropriate suppression and mitigation methods Installing temporary sprinkler systems, monitoring and extinguishing hotspots, removal of brush, combustible vegetation and debris and closing of doors and windows.” Some also carry a type of fire retardant than can be sprayed on and around structures.

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