Local History

Biscuit Fire continues

Fire efforts take shape with establishment of fire camp
Management team evaluates situation; no evacuations

This Biscuit Fire story ran in the July 24, 2002 edition of the Illinois Valley News

By Sherri Hopper

Fires that initially started on July 13 as a lightning storm passed through the area are still burning in the Illinois Valley, filling the valley with smoke and worry.
Currently the Biscuit Complex, comprised of the Florence Fire and the Biscuit Fire continues to burn at the U.S. Forest Service strategizes the most effective routes to containment.
A fire camp has been established at the Illinois River “Forks” State Park on Friday, July 19. The park is now closed to the public and will be until further notice.
Initially the forest service located the Arizona Central West Zone Incident Management Team to the camp to manage fire-fighting efforts. As of Tuesday, July 23, the forest service was transitioning the management situation, anticipating the addition of a second management team to work on the Biscuit Fire.
The Arizona management team will oversee fire-fighting operations with the Florence Fire, which on Tuesday was estimated at 3,840 acres. Burning on the northeast corner of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, the fire is described by the USFS as “exhibiting very high fire intensity,” and was expected to move east from the Clear Creek area.
USFS has proposed a community meeting on Thursday evening, July 24 to provide information about the fires. The location is not yet established. Flyers will be posted or contact the USFS.
In the same area of the 1987 Silver Fire, the density of fallen trees from that fire have added to the intensity of the Florence Fire, resulting in firefighters being pulled back from direct attack.
As of Tuesday, the Arizona management team established a line for fire-fighting, using Bald Mountain Road with crews clearing brush and preparing for burn-out operations to deprive the fire of fuel and halt its progress.
There have been no evacuations at this time, but there is potential threat to homes in the Oak Flat area southeast of the Florence Fire.
The Biscuit Fire, in the vicinity of the southern tip of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, has merged with the Sourdough Fire on Monday, July 21. The fire is estimated at 1,630 acres and is not moving or spreading, but holding in the area of Taylor, Baldface and fall Creeks, and at Sourdough Camp Road.
As of Tuesday, the UFGS was in the transition of bringing on a second team to oversee the Biscuit Fire and establish a management plan for it.
There is no estimated containment date, and a zero percent level of containment.
Firefighters are working to complete initial plans to establish a secure anchor point. Levels of containment can then be approximated.
Another fire, the Carter Fire which was one of the initial fires started in the Biscuit complex, was contained on Wednesday, July 17.
The fire camp at the “Forks” State Park is comprised of several different areas accommodating the fire-fighting efforts, including an administrative area, meal site, supply site, a check-in area for fire crews, and camping areas for fire fighters.
A team of eight Illinois Valley young people were hired to assist at fire camp, freeing up the Illinois Valley Ranger District personnel to continue with other duties.
Bill Harrington, in charge of the supply unit, commented that he was very impressed at the initiative of the I.V. youth. “Sometimes I have to slow them down because they are so energetic,” he said.
Another aspect of fighting these fires is the potential spread of Port Orford Cedar root disease; precautions are in place to prevent transporting it, with truck undercarriages and tires being washed thoroughly every time they return from the fire.
In addition to the main fire camp, fire fighters are “spiked out” at another location closer to the fires.
Fire fighter and public safety are the number one priorities for management. Firefighters at both fires have been pulled back from direct from direct attack in the interest of safety.
Weather conditions affect the amount of smoke in the valley. The forest service advises that people with pulmonary problems should stay indoors as much as possible and use their air conditioners. They should also confer with their personal health care providers.