Highway 96 reopens without restrictions as firefighters gain on Lumgrey Fire

Evacuation warnings for Lumgrey Fire lifted have been lifted, and Highway 96 is open to residents with identification and a CHP escort.

Posted: Jun 17, 2019 7:12 PM
Updated: Jun 20, 2019 7:39 AM

Siskiyou County, Calif. — The fire is now 80% contained. Crews have now begun suppression repair work on the indirect lines around the fire. 

The Evacuation Warning has been lifted for both Dutch Creek and Empire Creek.

Highway 96 is currently open with no restrictions. Officials ask that everyone drive safely and slowly through the fire area, as firefighters are working and utility personnel are restoring damaged infrastructure.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

(Updated 6/20/2019 at 7:30 a.m.)

Siskiyou County, Calif. —

UPDATE: Highway 96 in Siskiyou County has reopened without any restrictions near the Lumgrey Fire, fire officials confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters have continued to work throughout the day on mop-up operations and increasing containment on the fire.

(Updated 6/19/19 at 5:15 p.m.)

UPDATE: Fire officials say the Lumgrey fire is now burning at 207 acres and is 60 percent contained.

Highway 96 is open to one lane of escorted traffic until 8 P.M. tonight.

Officials say the goal is to open both lanes of the highway.

(Updated 6/19/19 at 7:05 a.m.)

UPDATE: The Lumgrey Fire southeast of the Klamath River community has grown slightly to cover an estimated 230 acres, according to fire officials on Tuesday afternoon. Part of that acreage includes an 80-acre area on the south side of the river where the fire jumped.

Firefighters finished constructing a hand line around the fire on Tuesday and raised containment to 30 percent.

"Firefighters will continue to mop-up, improve and secure the completed line around the fire," officials said.

NewsWatch 12 spoke to Siskiyou County residents who said they were shocked a large fire like this was happening so soon in the county.

"I'm feeling like it's too early," said Fort Jones man Rick Formanek.

"The first thing I thought of is 'is it going to be as bad as last year?'" added Montague resident Naomi McManigal. "How far is it going to spread? I actually looked up where it was burning to see what the brush looked like around it to see what are the chances of it getting out of control versus just being able to be put down fast."

Many residents still have the devastation of last year's Klamathon Fire at the forefront of their minds.

"The fire jumped the freeway," said Formanek. "It was incredible how fast it moved."

A potentially hazardous air quality is another huge concern.

"I won't be able to breath again.  I don't have any allergy problems but its still hard to breathe. You could see ash all over the windshield of the car," added McManigal.

"I hope everybody is really conscious and aware to help prevent any fires from starting this year," said Formanek.

The Klamath National Forest expects the Lumgrey fire to be fully contained by Saturday. Highway 96 was re-opened to one lane of escorted traffic, however the route will be closed between 10 p.m. Tuesday night and 6 a.m. Wednesday morning "for firefighter and public safety." This area includes Hwy 96 from the junction of Hwy 263 to the Gottville river takeout.

(Updated 6/18/19 at 11:50 p.m.)

UPDATE: According to Klamath National Forest, Highway 96 will open with restrictions around noon Tuesday. Caltrans and California Highway Patrol are closely monitoring the situtation. 

It will reopen with only one lane open. Drivers will be escorted through. 

The highway will close again at 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night until 6:00 a.m. Wednesday. That is subject to change. 

(Updated 6/18/19 10:55 a.m.)

UPDATE: According to CalTrans, Highway 96 will remain closed and only be open to residents with identification and a CHP escort.

The fire remains around 215 acres at the latest estimate from fire officials. A Type 3 Incident Management Team is expected to take over firefighting efforts on Tuesday morning.

(Updated 6/18/19 9:09 a.m.)

UPDATE: The Klamath National Forest says evacuation warnings for Dutch Creek and Empire Creek are now lifted. Highway 96 is now open for drivers, according to the Klamath Forest Service. 

Crews say the Lumgrey Fire burning in Siskiyou County is now 215 acres. 150 acres on the north side of the Klamath River held strong overnight, while the south side of the fire grew to about 65 acres. Crews are working on lining the fire today. 

(Updated 6/18/19 7:15 a.m.)

UPDATE: The two fires have merged into one and is called the Lumgrey Fire. It is now 180 acres. It has jumped the Klamath River. Highway 96 is closed due to the fire. Evacuation warnings are still in place for Dutch Creek and Empire Creek.

(Updated 6/17/19 at 10:01 p.m.)

UPDATE: Crews are calling the two fires the Lumgrey Fire. The two separate fires burning in the Klamath National Forest are around 75 acres in total. Crews are in the initial attack phase.

(Updated 6/17/19 at 7:24 p.m.)

INITIAL REPORT: Cal Fire Siskiyou Unit says they are helping with two vegetation fires in the area of Empire Creek Road and Dutch Creek Road off of Highway 96. 

An evacuation warning is in place for Empire Creek Road and Dutch Creek road. 

Stay with NewsWatch 12 for updates on this developing story. We are working to get more details. 

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