40,000-Acre Wildfire Prompts Evacuations Near California-Oregon Border

Madilynne Medina
SFGate, San Francisco

Aug. 22—The Smith River Complex wildfire burning near the California-Oregon border has consumed 40,000 acres and prompted evacuations as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It started Aug. 15 after the Six Rivers National Forest was hit with 150 lightning strikes, which caused at least 27 fires, the forest service said.

The fire is spread across the Smith River National Recreation Area, which is a protected area in northwestern California. It’s burning in Del Norte County, closest to the town of Gasquet, with no containment.

The Del Norte County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order from Slant Bridge to the Oregon border, which includes the community of Gasquet.

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The latest information, including the multiple road closures south of the Oregon-California border, can be found on the county’s emergency services Facebook page. Residents affected by the fire can receive emergency shelter provided by the American Red Cross. The most up-to-date information regarding shelters can be found on the American Red Cross California Gold Country Region Facebook page. Those in the area are also advised to sign up for community alerts.

Josephine County in Oregon issued a Level 1 evacuation notice, which means residents should pack and prepare to leave, if necessary, at a moment’s notice. County officials are updating the Rogue Valley Emergency Management site with the latest information.

Two separate fires, the Kelly Fire and the Holiday Fire, merged Monday, officials from the U.S. Forest Service said in a Tuesday news release. Officials are now referring to the fire as the Kelly Fire.

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A red flag warning was issued for the affected areas as officials continue to monitor fire and weather concerns. The fire areas may have 25 mph winds, with occasional gusts up to 40 mph.

Erratic weather created by the remnants of Tropical Storm Hilary has also made it difficult for officials to predict how severe the wind gusts will be. The most severe gusts are forecast in areas above 1,000 feet.

Strong, dry winds blew through the high-elevation areas of the Smith River Complex overnight, but the weather conditions didn’t pose a threat to the public, the forest service said. Temperatures are expected to cool Tuesday, which may reduce the fire.

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About 1,150 fire personnel were at the scene as of Tuesday. More wildland engines and personnel will arrive in the next few days, the forest service said.

Madilynne Medina is a news reporter for SFGATE. She is an alumna of San Jose State where she served as executive editor for the “Spartan Daily.” She is also a Bay Area native. Email her at [email protected]

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Madilynne Medina SFGate, San Francisco Aug. 22—The Smith River Complex wildfire burning near the California-Oregon border has consumed 40,000 acres and prompted evacuations as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Forest Service. It started Aug. 15 after the Six Rivers National Forest was hit with 150 lightning strikes, which caused at least 27 fires, […]

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