Just imagine the fear and heartache many Lassen County residents felt when they learned the out-of-control Whaleback Fire was roaring in their direction, a short 20 miles from Susanville, a little more than a week ago.
They are not alone. Nearly 20 wildfires blacken many parts of California, fires that have claimed at least eight lives — including three firefighters — and destroyed more than 1,000 homes and businesses.
Believe it or not, fires rage from the California/Oregon border to near San Diego in Southern California including a blaze that closed the Yosemite Valley The Carr Fire, just over the crest of the mountains in Redding is the largest fire in the state and one that has razed entire neighborhoods and burned more than 112,000 acres.
Last Saturday, California Governor Jerry Brown asked president Donald Trump for federal assistance as the state is in the midst of another devastating wildfire season.
As of Saturday afternoon, Cal Fire reports the Whaleback Fire near Eagle Lake, first reported July 27, has burned 18,726 acres and is 80 percent contained. The fire forced the evacuation of Spalding and the closing of county roads, five campgrounds and beach areas along Eagle Lake as well as elective evacuations on the north end of the lake at Bucks Bay and Stones Landing. County Road A1 is closed at Lakeside Drive near Bucks Bay and at Alta Drive in Lake Forest. County Road 105 is closed at Highway 44 and County Road 231 is also closed. Complete containment is expected by Wednesday, Aug. 8. The cause of the fire remains unknown. Officers from the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office and the Susanville Police Department provide security in Spalding while the residents are evacuated.
As those who were evacuated took shelter in the Assembly of God Church in Susanville, firefighters made containment lines a priority and saved the homes and property of many Lassen County residents. The crews continue to be tested with Red Flag Warnings issued due to high wind conditions and extremely low humidity. According to the Nor Cal Interagency Incident Management Team, the main concerns are firefighter and public safety as the crews work to secure the area around Spalding and try to keep the fire within containment lines.
According to the Interagency Incident Management Team, 832 personnel, including 21 hand crews, four helicopters, 44 fire engines, 12 bulldozers and 24 water tenders battle the blaze.
Thank you — and God bless — all those brave men and women firefighters, first responders and law enforcement personnel who risk their lives to help us in a time of such dire and desperate need.