An erratic group of wildfires in Del Norte County, California, has led to mandatory evacuations and the closure of Highway 199 near the Oregon border. The Smith River Complex, which has been estimated to cover 25,419 acres, was caused by approximately 150 lightning strikes since Monday night, resulting in at least 27 fires.
Highway 199 has been closed from Oregon Mountain Road to Pioneer Road (mileposts 15-31) just south of the Oregon border. Evacuations have been categorized into three levels. Level 3, or “Go Now,” evacuations are in effect for the following areas in Del Norte County: Patrick Creek, Little Jones Creek, Copper Creek Drainage, Coon Creek (16n19 17n07), Washington Flat, Pioneer Road, Panther Flat Campground Area, and all communities between Pioneer Road and the Oregon border along Highway 199 and French Hill Road.
Level 2, or “Be Set,” evacuations have been issued for High Divide, Rowdy Creek, and Gasquet from Pioneer Road to Slant Bridge. Level 1, or “Be Ready,” evacuations have been established for Big Flat/Rock Creek, Low Divide, and Hiouchi from Slant Bridge to the east end of North Bank Road.
Fire managers have reported that thunderstorms on Saturday caused gusty and erratic winds over parts of the Smith River Complex. The forecast for Sunday night predicts increased winds in the thermal belt above 2,000 feet, heightening the risk of further burning.
The American Red Cross has opened a shelter at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds in Crescent City, California, at 421 U.S. 101 North, offering food, comfort kits, and other supplies.
For more information and updates, you can visit the Six Rivers National Forest Facebook page.