Slater Fire: USFS Investigates power company connection to fire origin

The Slater Fire started Sept. 8, 2020, near the Slater Butte Fire Lookout on the Klamath National Forest. It is burning on the Klamath, Six Rivers, and Rogue-Siskiyou National Forests.

Posted: Oct 17, 2020 12:54 PM
Updated: Oct 18, 2020 3:04 PM

HAPPY CAMP, Calif. - The Slater and Devil Fires remain at 80% containment and have burned 156,618 acres in California and in Oregon.

An investigation is taking place into the origin of the Slater Fire as people in Happy Camp continue to ask for answers about the start of the fire. It burned more than 150 homes, including tribal housing.

Leadership of the Karuk Tribe is asking for a full investigation.

A consultant who works for the tribe says Pacific Power and Light may be to blame for not de-energizing lines.

Saturday a spokesperson for the Klamath National Forest that their investigation will most likely take several months to complete.

The power company has hired its own third-party investigator to "understand the totality of the event."

The areas burned include parts of Siskiyou and Del Norte Counties in California and Joesphine County in Oregon. Road closure and evacuations are in place due to the Slater Fire. The estimated containment date is Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020.

Saturday, patrols identified hot spots in the northeast corner of the fire near Sucker Creek. Hot spots were also spotted on the west of the fire, east of Little Sanger Peak in the Chicago Creek drainage. Helicopters will continue air operations and bucket drops today as needed.

Repair work on dozer lines will begin to outpace fire-suppression activities over the next few days. Resource Advisors are working hand in hand with ground resources to repair dozer lines on the north flank of the fire that were built to protect homes and structures. Residents along the south flank can expect to see crews repairing dozer lines over the coming days.

Aerial and ground patrols report little fire activity near containment lines.

Removal of fire-damaged hazard trees along the Grayback Road continues, with one team working from Happy Camp north, and another team from the north end of the road working southward.

The Grayback Road is closed to public travel due to unsafe conditions. Crews are working currently to remove hazard trees adjacent to the roadway.

The cause of the Slater Fire is still being investigated at this time. It started on Sept. 8, 2020 near Slater Butte Fire Lookout on the Klamath National Forest.

The Devil Fire was detected on Sept. 9, 2020 north of Upper Devil's Peak on the Klamath National Forest.

Slater Fire - 156,618 acres and it remains 80% contained on Sunday.

A Red Flag Warning and critical weather conditions on Thursday and Friday provided a test for containment lines. With the fire behavior moderated due to moisture from recent rains, the lines passed the test. Aerial and ground observers reported little fire activity near the perimeter. Patrols will continue along containment lines on Saturday.

Work progresses to secure the lines in the northeast corner of the fire near Swan Peak, with aerial and ground patrols monitoring this area for remaining pockets of heat.

In the Knopki and Chicago Creek drainages, helicopters will drop buckets of water on lingering areas of persistent heat to keep the fire in check. Containment is improving in this area, and crews are making good progress connecting containment lines to the 2018 Natchez Fire footprint. Aviation assets remain available for reconnaissance and bucket operations as needed.

Resource Advisors are guiding repair work along hand lines and dozer lines to remove berms and reinforce water drainage features that will help mitigate erosion concerns prior to the arrival of seasonal rains. Chipping operations are ongoing to remove brush from roadways and firelines. Repair efforts are gaining momentum as crews shift from fire suppression to repair actions.

Removal of fire-damaged trees and hazard trees along the Grayback Road continues, with one team working from Happy Camp north towards Oregon, and another from the north end of the road working southward.

Devil Fire - 8,885 acres and 60% containment

The Devil Fire started near Fox Lake. The Devil Fire was detected on Sept. 9, 2020 north of Upper Devil's Peak on the Klamath National Forest.The Devil Fire remains in patrol status using air and drone surveillance.

Aviation resources are tasked with monitoring the Devil Fire and using bucket drops to suppress the spread of creeping fire activity south of Middle Fork Fort Goff Creek.


In Happy Camp, the Mandatory Evacuation is still in effect above the intersection of Indian Meadows Road and Indian Creek Road.

For specific information regarding evacuations CLICK HERE for the Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Services Facebook page. They can be reached at this phone number: (530) 643-3662

Del Norte County information: You can call (707) 464-7213 or CLICK HERE to visit their Facebook page.  

Closures and Restrictions

The Klamath, Six Rivers, and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests have issued fire area closure orders for the Slater and Devil Fires. The Pacific Southwest Region is under emergency fire restrictions, although the use of gas stoves is allowed in open developed recreation sites. Find closure orders and maps at THIS LINK for the Klamath National Forest, and CLICK THIS LINK for the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Portions of both the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest’s Wild Rivers Ranger District and Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District have reopened for use. Some areas remain closed for emergency crews’ safety and to allow for fire suppression and burned area recovery. Find closure orders and maps at: The latest updates on fire danger levels and public use restrictions within the Forest are available at

The Bureau of Land Management Medford District has public lands closures in effect near the Slater Fire and South Obenchain Fire. Find closure area maps at THIS LINK

Burned Area Emergency Recovery information and resources for private landowners impacted by the Slater and Devil Fires are available at THIS LINK.

BAER teams begin post-fire assessments of the Slater and Devil fires.

Two Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams have been established—one team for the California side of the fires and one team for the Oregon side. The BAER assessment teams are assigned the task of assessing the burned areas of the Slater and Devil Fires. They will be coordinating with the Klamath, Six Rivers and Rogue River-Siskiyou national forests as well as the Bureau of Land Management, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Weather Service, US Geological Survey, National Park Service, Karuk Tribe, Siskiyou County, Del Norte County, Josephine County, and other federal, state and local agencies as they assess potential post-fire impacts to the burned watersheds.

BAER surveys are rapid assessments that evaluate the burned area to identify watersheds having increased potential for post-fire flooding, sediment flows, falling trees, and rockslides. The BAER survey assists land managers in preparing the burned area for rainstorms and wind events. The teams focus on potential emergency impacts on life, and safety on National Forest System (NFS) lands and share the team’s findings with the responsible agencies, adjacent landowners, and managers.

BAER teams typically consist of scientists and specialists including hydrologists, geologists, soil scientists, road engineers, botanists, fisheries biologists, wildlife biologists, recreation specialists, archeologists, and geographic information specialists. BAER teams collect data during their burned area surveys to analyze through GIS and computer models and present their findings along with recommended BAER emergency response actions in a BAER assessment report.

BAER teams utilize satellite imagery and specialist data to analyze and produce a map that shows the levels of soil burn severity on the watersheds. This is the first step in assessing potential watershed impacts from wildfires to any NFS values that may be at risk from potential increased flooding, sedimentation, debris flows, and rockslides. BAER teams produce a report that describes threats associated with the burned area’s post-fire conditions along with recommended emergency stabilization measures and actions. BAER emergency response efforts are focused on the protection of human life, safety, and property, as well as critical cultural and natural resource values such as the water quality of streams and wetlands on NFS lands.

The BAER team will produce and share soil burn severity and potential debris flow hazard maps for the burned area. BAER reports are shared with interagency cooperators who work with private home and other landowners to prepare for potential post-fire flooding and debris flow impacts. Homes or businesses that could be impacted by flooding from federal land that resulted from wildfires may be eligible for flood insurance coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Information about NFIP is available through FEMA at THIS LINK.

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Gusty northeast winds and the potential for morning fog are ahead for the start of your Wednesday. We'll end up sunny and very warm Wednesday afternoon. Dry and warm weather will persist into this weekend, but we finally have a cooling trend and the potential for wet weather returning in your extended forecast.
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