Fires

High fire potential prompts warnings for portions of Northern California, Oregon

Watch what it’s like to drive on reopened I-5 as crews fight Klamathon Fire

Travelers on southbound I-5 encounter smoke and burn areas from the Klamathon wildfire at the California-Oregon border on Saturday, July 7, 2018. The highway reopened Friday morning after it was shut down Thursday due to the fire hazard.
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Travelers on southbound I-5 encounter smoke and burn areas from the Klamathon wildfire at the California-Oregon border on Saturday, July 7, 2018. The highway reopened Friday morning after it was shut down Thursday due to the fire hazard.

The potential for high winds and thunderstorms have prompted a fire weather watch to be issued through Sunday for the northeast corner of California and broad portions of Oregon.

The National Weather Service issued the warning Saturday morning for Modoc and Siskiyou counties based on forecast models indicating a potential for gusty winds, low humidity and lightning strikes in the northern edge of California’s Coast Range, the upper basins east of the Cascade Range and the Illiniois Valley of Oregon. These areas include the Klamath, Trinity and Modoc national forests.

“Continued hot temperatures will combine with colder air moving in the upper atmosphere to bring isolated to scattered thunderstorms to the region Sunday,” according to the warning issued by the service’s office in Medford, Oregon. “The greatest coverage of lightning strikes will be from the Mount Shasta area to the east and northeast, but with extremely dry fuels from the Cascades westward the probability of strikes causing quickly growing ignitions is very high.”

The weather service’s warning said thunderstorms are expected to develop in the late morning Sunday, “with the strongest and most widespread development late afternoon into early evening.” Forecast models expect humidity levels to be in the teens.

Firefighters in the region are already battling several wildfires, notably the Klamathon Fire between Yreka and the Oregon state line that’s burned more 38,008 acres and is 99 percent contained as of Saturday morning, according to Cal Fire.

Farthern north there were seven large fires burning uncontrolled within Washington state, and multiple others in Oregon.

Crews in Oregon continue to battle the Substation Fire near The Dalles, which has grown to 109 square miles. The fire is about 44 percent contained and is blamed for the death of a farmer.

South of the capital region, a fire just west of Yosemite National Park expanded to nearly 36 square miles, prompting more evacuations. More than 2,700 firefighters aided by a fleet of helicopters were battling the Ferguson Fire, which was 27,129 acres but only 7 percent contained.

Several areas were under mandatory evacuation orders, but no homes had been damaged or destroyed.

Meanwhile, parts of the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys could see temperatures 5 to 10 degrees above normal beginning Tuesday and lasting until Thursday, prompting the service to issue an excessive heat advisory.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Temperatures will be near average this weekend but things will be heating up early next week. An Excessive Heat Watch goes into effect Tuesday afternoon. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CAwx?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CAwx</a> <a href="https://t.co/Nc17gwz8OC">pic.twitter.com/Nc17gwz8OC</a></p>&mdash; NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) <a href="https://twitter.com/NWSSacramento/status/1020467209057992704?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 21, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

“The northern and central Sacramento valley could have high temperatures reach as high as 110 degrees, with warm overnight lows providing little relief from the heat,” the warning said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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