BREAKING NEWS Can you help identify the man hit by a train Sunday morning in Chico? Full Story

70% of Lava Beds National Monument burned in the Caldwell Fire

70% of Lava Beds National Monument was burned in the Caldwell Fire which started on July 22, but with destruction also comes new growth in the park.

Posted: Aug 12, 2020 6:59 PM
Updated: Aug 12, 2020 7:23 PM

SISKIYOU & MODOC COUNTIES, Calif. - 70% of Lava Beds National Monument was burned in the Caldwell Fire which started on July 22, but with destruction also comes new growth in the park.

Just south of the Oregon border lies Lava Beds National Monument but these days it looks a lot different.

What was once lush landscape, is now scorched. It stretches as far as the eye can see. The culprit? The Caldwell Fire. The largest fire in California since 2018. It burned a total of 80,859 acres in Siskiyou & Modoc counties.

"The fire burned mixed vegetation. It went through sagebrush and open grasslands but to the south of us it got into some ponderosa pine and pine forest. Here in the monument we have a lot of juniper trees and they went up like flares." -Mark Blackburn, Chief of Visitor Services at Lava Beds National Monument.

It burned about 70% of the park - over popular caves, attractions and some historical battle sites. But for the most part, the native american paintings & petroglyphs survived the fire, as did the visitor center. The fire has revealed a lot of the lava fields previously covered by thick vegetation. 

The visitation rates to the monument could also go up because of the fire.

"I think that because this is such a unique event, we could actually see an uptick in visitation as people want to see what a landscape looks like after a major wildfire." -Mark Blackburn, Chief of Visitor Services at Lava Beds National Monument.

The Caldwell Fire started on July 22 after a thunderstorm rolled through the area, leading to several lightning-caused fires. In the coming days and weeks, more thunderstorms passed nearby - fanning the flames.

Thomas Howell was forced to evacuate. He is all too familiar with wildfires, as he is a Camp Fire survivor.

"It got really close to here. We had to like get all of our quads, our dirt bikes, our boat, everything out of here. We tried to get everything we could to leave because the camp fire kind of made us scared for this fire. It was scary for me. A lot of, like, I felt like a lot of emotions like that. I really don't know how to explain it." -Thomas Howell, Camp Fire survivor in Tionesta.

Thankfully no homes were destroyed and all evacuations lifted.

Ken Sandusky with the Modoc National Forest says it could have been a lot worse without preventative measures.

"They didn't show great success but there is still hope that the fire intensity was lessened to where the impacts on the plants in the area may have been lessened as well. It's going to be awhile before we can realize if that's the case or not but those are the hope. Fuels managers have been planning for this for a long time. They did things ahead of time in order to protect structures and privately held businesses or lands." -Ken Sandusky, Modoc National Forest Public Information Officer.

Next year the national monument should have a new coat of grass to cover the char below.

"It looks like a disaster happened. A disaster did happen. But fire is a part of this landscape and this truly is a new foundation for mother nature to build upon." -Mark Blackburn, Chief of Visitor Services at Lava Beds National Monument.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 783313

Reported Deaths: 15018
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2598176330
Riverside566811153
San Bernardino52287908
Orange518731127
San Diego44293796
Kern31261350
Fresno27560355
Sacramento21171375
Alameda20494374
Santa Clara20252296
San Joaquin19793414
Stanislaus16289332
Contra Costa15734199
Tulare15599256
Ventura12236143
Imperial11558314
San Francisco1069697
San Mateo9522143
Monterey936066
Santa Barbara8846110
Merced8750134
Kings726877
Sonoma6998114
Marin6557112
Solano608555
Madera429658
Placer342841
San Luis Obispo336027
Yolo274054
Butte273835
Santa Cruz21898
Sutter164210
Napa160413
San Benito129011
Yuba11187
El Dorado10644
Mendocino83318
Lassen7310
Shasta66814
Glenn5503
Colusa5096
Nevada5066
Tehama4904
Humboldt4826
Lake45910
Calaveras31114
Amador28616
Tuolumne2214
Inyo18714
Mono1642
Siskiyou1610
Del Norte1361
Mariposa752
Plumas490
Modoc230
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 88°
Oroville
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 89°
Paradise
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 88°
Chester
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 80°
Red Bluff
Clear
92° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 92°
Willows
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 88°
Heat and haze were on the menu today but a cool-down is in the works for next week.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events