Firefighters are working to suppress a wildfire burning near the town of Helena CA, west of Weaverville, CA along Hwy 299. It is burning along Hwy 299 and is currently burning on both sides of the Trinity River. The fire began on August 30, 2017 at 5:10 p.m. California Interagency Incident Management Team 3 (CIIMT3) is managing both the Helena Fire under Unified Command with CALFIRE; and the Fork Fire which is burning in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. These two fires are close to merging, and are anticipated to burn together in the coming days. The Helena Fire is currently 16,937 acres and 40% contained; the Fork Fire is 3,134 acres with zero containment.

Status: Fire activity was moderated overnight by increasing humidity and cooler temperatures, which limited fire growth yesterday. Clouds and the threat of thunderstorms will continue to day. Firefighters will continue to monitor contained portions of firelines for hotspots or smoke from smoldering fuels. Smoke will continue to be visible within the fire perimeter as large heavy fuels continue to smolder. Firefighters will continue structure protection and preparation in the Canyon Creek area. The fire is expected to slowly back down to Canyon Creek. Additional crews have been added to begin fire line construction along the south-west portion of the fire near Hayfork Divide, and down to the Trinity River.

Helena-Fork Resources: Engines: 97 Crews: 30 Dozers: 23 Water Tenders: 16 Helicopters: 9Total Personnel: 1,317

Fixed-wing air tankers are available as needed, however these resources are shared among all fires in the area, and are also available for initial attack as needed. Fire managers in Redding and Boise determine priorities for these national resources.

The fire situation is dynamic and residents are urged to monitor fire information on the internet and on bulletin boards. Despite cooler temperatures, higher humidity and rain, the fire area has critically dry heavy fuels that will continue to burn, resulting in visible smoke and occasional plumes or columns. Grass and light fuels will dry out over the coming days, making smoke and flames more visible to local communities.


Click to view the 
Evening Helena-Fork Fire Update (PDF, 9/8/2017)

Click to view the Most Recent Fire Map (large PDF, 9/9/2017)
Click to view the 
Overnight IR Heat Map (PDF, 9/8/2017)
Video: Fire Behavior Update (MOV, 9/8/2017)

Forest Closure Order: Effective September 9, 2017, a Forest Closure Order is in effect for Forest Service lands affected by the Helena-Fork Fire on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. This order is required to protect firefighter and public safety and will remain in effect until the Helena-Fork Fire is declared out. Click to view the full list of roads and trails affected by this closure. The Shasta-Trinity National Forest Website lists all recreation sites on the Forest, which are excellent alternative locations to visit. 
Weather and Smoke: Temperatures are moderating in the fire areas and humidity is improving this week. Rain from thunderstorms will reduce fire activity until the surface fuels dry out, reducing smoke impacts to the local area, however smoke from other fires in northern California and southern Oregon continue to create unhealthy air conditions. Visit ncuaqmd.org for air quality information and hours and locations of clean air shelters.

Wilderness / Recreation Access: Canyon Creek and Hobo Gulch trailheads are not accessible. The BLM Junction City Campground and Bagdad River Access on Highway 299, Pigeon Campground, and the Grapevine Swimming Hole on East Fork Road are closed.

Evacuations: The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office and Office of Emergency Services along with the Unified Command of the Helena Fire has made the decision to lift evacuation orders on the south side of Hwy 299 within the evacuated zone for RESIDENTS ONLY! Residents are encouraged to be aware of the continued fire suppression operations in the area, and the dangers associated with increased traffic. All other evacuation orders remain in effect, including the Canyon Creek area. An evacuation center is located at the First Baptist Church in Weaverville. The shelter for farm animals is at the Trinity High School. Dogs and cats can be taken to the Trinity County Animal Shelter. 
State Route 299: California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will open Highway 299 tothrough traffic only at the following times: 5:30 am, 9:00 am, 2:00 pm, 5:30 pm, and 9:30 pm. Eastbound and westbound traffic in line at the designated times will be allowed through the area under traffic control, depending on fire activity and operations. Highway closures are currently between Junction City Campground to approximately one mile west of the Helena Bridge. Officials are estimating 40 minutes to get through the area at opening times. Caltrans, working with Trinity County Department of Transportation, is cutting down hazard trees and verifying that roadways are in good condition.

Trinity Transit: For the Willow Creek Line: AFTERNOON SERVICE ONLY! Westward (from Weaverville towards Willow Creek) will run ONE HOUR EARLIER THAN REGULAR SCHEDULED TIMES. Eastward (from Willow Creek to Weaverville) will run on the regular scheduled times. (No a.m. service.) This can change at the last minute. Visit the Trinity Transit Website or call 530-623-1365 before you travel.

Trinity County Roads: The following roads are closed: Canyon Creek Road, Upper Road, Lower Road, Valdor Road, and Powerhouse Road. The Sheriff’s office will continue to patrol the area, and Trinity County has established road blocks that prevent people from entering the evacuated areas. County roads will be repaired and hazard trees will be removed in the near future.. Please view theHelena-Fork Fire Road Status Map.

Trinity County Solid Waste Department: The solid waste department will be offering free disposal of perishable food items at the Junction City Transfer Station that were spoiled as a result of the Helena Fire evacuation at the following times: Thursday from 12:00 pm until 7:00 pm, and Friday & Saturday from 8:00 am until 4:00 pm.

Utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE) pole replacement operations has begun and is expected to take up to two weeks. The work includes the use of helicopters and felling hazardous trees.

Local Assistance Center (LAC): Trinity County’s Local Assistance Center (LAC), which has provided information and assistance to residents impacted by the Helena Fire closed on September 6 at 7:00 pm. Residents who have been impacted by the fire can still find information about services and resources at Trinity County Health and Human Services. Information will be available from many of the same state and local agencies, non-profit and voluntary organizations that were represented at the Local Assistance Center. Trinity County Health and Human Services is located at 51 Industrial Park Way in Weaverville. Phone number is (530) 623-1265 or Toll-free: (800) 851-5658

Schools: The Trinity Alps Unified School District (TAUSD) is providing daily updates on their website www.tausd.org regarding reopening Trinity High School and Weaverville Elementary School. Junction City schools will remain closed until the evacuation order is lifted. Updates regarding the status of Douglas City Elementary School are available on the Douglas City Elementary School Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/douglascityschool.

Trinity County Sheriff’s Office: TCSO is providing public safety within the fire area, making contacts to verify residents who stayed behind, providing evacuation security with roaming patrols, and working with Cal OES in running the Emergency Operations Center (EOC).

Trinity County Environmental Health: Has been actively assessing imminent public health and safety hazards in the affected burn areas. Hazardous materials and trees, smoldering material, and structural instability has made the area inaccessible for several days.


 

Basic Information

Current as of 9/9/2017, 6:29:47 AM
Incident Type Wildfire
Cause Under Investigation
Date of Origin Wednesday August 30th, 2017 approx. 05:15 PM
Location Junction City & Helena, CA
Incident Commander Clay Templin (CIIMT 3); Sean Kavanaugh (CAL FIRE)
Incident Description Unified Command With Calfire

Current Situation

Total Personnel 1,317
Size 20,354 Acres
Percent of Perimeter Contained 40%
Estimated Containment Date Sunday October 01st, 2017 approx. 12:00 AM
Fuels Involved Brush, timber, hardwood litter

Fire is burning in past fire scars from 2006, 2008, and 1987. Fire is burning in steep terrain with slopes averaging 40% and up to 100%. Steep, inaccessible areas exist across the area.

Significant Events 20,354 acres is a combined acreage. Helena fire is 16,937 and Fork fire is 3,417

Minimal fire behavior across the fire area due to high overnight humidities. 1000 hr. fuels (large dead/down logs, standing snags) continue to carry heat.

Outlook

Planned Actions Helena: Continue to control and contain fire and residual hot spots around structures. Prepare structures along Canyon Creek Rd. and Conrad Gulch. Assess needs for suppression repair. Continue to scout for and put in direct and indirect control lines. Complete contingency dozer lines in the area of 5 Cent Ridge and west of Sidney Gulch. Construct line from Rattle Snake Cap to the Hayfork Divide.

Fork: Develop access plans and brush roads to fire area. Observe fire area and determine plans for engagement and potential actions

Projected Incident Activity Previous dozer line from the Eagle fire is being improved as indirect line for DIV Z. The Fork and Helena fires have grown within less than one mile of each other. Minimal to moderate fire spread is expected due to previous wetting rains. A helitack module was inserted onto the Fork Fire to map fires edge and determine natural barriers to stop fire growth.
Remarks Highway 299 is closed except for escorted traffic today at 5:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Escorts are for east and west-bound through traffic only.

CIIMT3 is managing the lightning-caused Fork Fire approximately eight miles to the north of the Helena Northeast of Weaverville, CA. Nighttime IR flight shows there is still approx. 1/2 mile separation between the Fork and the Helena Fire, These two fires are anticipated to merge.

Current Weather

Weather Concerns Rising temperatures with lower relative humidities over the next four days will continue to dry out one and ten hour fuels.