Pigeon Fire settles down
- Backfires protect historic hamlet
Smoke from the 5,200-acre Pigeon Fire has choked the Trinity River valley, but the weather responsible for it also appears to have temporarily kept the wildfire in check.
The smoke in the valley acts like a damper on a stove, said fire information officer Bruce Palmer.
The inversion stayed in place hours longer than it did Tuesday, keeping the area cooler and less breezy. The danger for homes and businesses in Big Bar, Big Flat and Helena is not over, however, and on Wednesday 16 bulldozers worked to carve fire lines around structures in Big Flat.
Big Flat and Helena remained under evacuation orders by the Trinity County Sheriff's Department. The fire -- which blew up to its present size in just five days -- is still a major threat to structures there, Palmer said.
The smothering smoke prevented airplanes and helicopters from dropping water on the fire, Palmer said, and from allowing fire managers to get a clear picture of just how the fire is moving. Last night the fire actively burned to the north and west in the Manzanita Creek drainage.
Fires lit by crews Tuesday near Helena in an attempt to keep the edge of the main wildfire from creeping closer to the historic hamlet were successful, Palmer said.
Some 743 people, three helicopters and eight water tenders were assigned to the fire Wednesday, and fire officials were considering drawing more crews from the nearby Bake-Oven Fire, part of the same Big Bar Complex. The Bake-Oven Fire is 32,350 acres, and was active in the North Fork of the Trinity River drainage and south towards White Creek Tuesday night.
Many phones are still out in Big Flat. A call to Trinity River Rafting Inc., was forwarded to Junction City, where owner David Steinhauser reported lots of smoke.
Steinhauser said he wasn't overly concerned yet about the Big Flat business' buildings burning, but he admitted it remains a possibility.
I'm not real worried about that, Steinhauser said. Unless the winds really shift, the fire is going more away from us.
Two fires in recent years in the immediate area also have consumed lots of brush, he said, leaving less fuel for a fire.
Like other rafting companies in the area that suffered loss of business due to the closure of State Route 299 and the popular Pigeon Point run on the Trinity River over Labor Day weekend, Steinhauser was hoping to get in a couple more weekends of business before fall sets in.
Route 299 is now open to controlled traffic, but motorists should plan for 1-hour delays.
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