Most of PCT Closed in California and Oregon, Warning Issued for Washington as Fires Rage Across West

Wildfires spreading ferociously across the West have shut down national forests and most of the Pacific Crest Trail in California and Oregon. Fires are also threatening the trail in Washington.

“The number of large fires and extreme fire behavior we are seeing across (California) is historic,” said Randy Moore, Pacific Southwest regional forester with the US Forest Service. “These temporary closures are necessary to protect the public and our firefighters, and we will keep them in place until conditions improve and we are confident that National Forest visitors can recreate safely. I ask all Californians and visitors to take these closures and evacuations seriously for their own safety and to allow our firefighters to focus on the mission of safely suppressing these fires.”

View of Lionshead Fire. Image via Sydney Brehm

The Pacific Crest Trail Association is tracking the wildfire closures affecting the PCT on its website, and has advised all hikers to get off the trail. The warning includes Washington, where fires are burning near the PCT just north of the closed Columbia River Gorge and in Glacier Peak Wilderness. Both have closed areas next to the trail.

The PCTA estimated that the fires could have burned up to 90 miles of the PCT, and that 1,800 miles of the trail are or were closed because of the fire.

Crater Lake National Park and Umpqua, Willamette, Rogue River-Siskiyou, Deschutes, and Mount Hood national forests in Oregon have been closed, along with the PCT running through those forests.

Sequoia National Park in California is also closed, including the PCT from about mile 754 to the top of Forester Pass at about mile 780. Yosemite and Kings Canyon national parks in California, and the PCT inside the parks, are also closed.

Nine national forests in California remain closed: Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, Inyo, Klamath, San Bernardino, Sequoia, Sierra, and Six Rivers. This decision will continue to be reviewed daily with evolving fire and weather conditions.

Nine other national forests may open to varying degrees. Visitors should contact the following national forests for more information on their status: Eldorado, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Plumas, Shasta-Trinity, Stanislaus, and the Tahoe. These forests will implement their own forest orders that will either limit dispersed use or provide for area closures around fires.

Cal Fire, the statewide California firefighting agency, said September 19 that wildfires this year have burned more than 3 million acres in California, 26 times the acreage that had burned at this time last year.

Approximately 19,000 firefighters are battling 27 major wildfires across California.

Entire communities have been destroyed in California, Oregon, and Washington. Wildfires have burned more than a million acres in Oregon, an area larger than Rhode Island.

Dozens of people have died from the fires in California and Oregon, with many more missing and feared dead.

The Creek Fire, which exploded over the Labor Day weekend, trapped hundreds of campers and hikers in the Sierra National Forest, including 200 camped at Mammoth Lake Reservoir, northeast of Fresno, California.

Campers and hikers trapped by wildfires at Mammoth Lake Reservoir in the Sierra National Forest, northeast of Fresno, California, were evacuated on California National Guard helicopters over the Labor Day weekend. Photo courtesy of California National Guard.

The New York Times said that California National Guard helicopter pilots who helped evacuate the campers said it was the worst flying they have ever done.

“Every piece of vegetation as far as you could see around that lake was on fire,” Chief Warrant Officer Kipp Goding, the pilot of a Blackhawk helicopter, said in a briefing, according to the Times.

About 70 hikers sheltering at the Vermillion Valley Resort in the High Sierra were also evacuated by Guard helicopters.

The  Times reported that as of noon on September 8, 362 people and at least 16 dogs threatened by the fires had been evacuated by air.

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Comments 2

  • FM : Sep 12th

    Whoever deleted my comment on the unsafe statewide defunding of California fire departments, and thinks it’s not relevant to this article, you’re an imbecile.

    Reply

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