UPDATED: FRM “Hat Fire” at 2,500 ac. with 15% containment, evacuations and 299 closure remain in effect

UPDATED: Aug. 10, 9 a.m.

See originals story, updates, photos, and videos below.

FALL RIVER MILLS — Cal Fire officials updated this morning that the Hat Fire burning in Fall River Mills had more than tripled in size overnight, growing from 800 acres shortly before 10 p.m., the 2,500 acres at 7:30 a.m. Firefighter’s efforts had managed to achieve 15% containment, according to officials.

Evacuations remain in effect in the area of Glenburn Rd., including all homes west of Glenburn Rd. in the Fall River Mills area, and Highway 299 remains closed in both directions from Pit 1 Grade to Main St. in Fall River Mills.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

 

UPDATED: Aug. 10, 6:30 a.m., With additional information and details

UPDATED: Aug. 9, 11:50 p.m.

See original story and updates below.

Writer’s note: The power has been out where I live, just 13 miles from this fire, since 6 p.m., and just turned back on minutes before midnight. Even with the generator running for power, Internet service has been down throughout the area.

FALL RIVER MILLS — The Hat Fire, burning since around 2:30 p.m., continues to grow at an alarming rate and shortly before 10 p.m., Cal Fire updated that the wildland blaze had grown to 800 acres with zero percent containment.

More than 135 firefighters are struggling to get ahead of the Hat Fire, last reported at 800 acres with zero percent containment. Mike Daly photo

Officials earlier warned the fire could quickly grow to consume 1,000 acres, due to a “critical rate of spread,” and dangerous fire conditions; including dry vegetation, winds throughout the area, and low humidity.

More than 135 firefighters are now committed to the fire, and on scene apparatus include fourteen engines, three fire crews, two helicopters, five dozers, and six water tenders.

“Firefighters are working to gain containment while challenged by extremely active fire behavior,” Cal Fire officials wrote in their last update.

An evacuation center, already moved twice due to quickly changing fire conditions as well as a power outage that lasted from just after 6 p.m. until midnight, has been moved once again to the Adin Community Center. Evacuees will not be accepted at either of the previous two designated locations.

The six hour power outage affected nearly 6,000 area customers; including 2,628 in Fall River Mills, 2,541 in Burney, and 738 in Cassel, according to PG&E officials.

Highway 299 remains closed in both directions from Pit 1 Grade to Main St. in Fall River Mills, and evacuations are still in effect in the area of Glenburn Rd., including all homes west of Glenburn Rd. in the Fall River Mills area.

Just before 7:30 p.m., a deputy reported to CHP that several large boulders and rocks had fallen onto 299 on the Pit One Grade and CalTrans crews were requested to check the area and remove the boulders, to make way for incoming fire crews and apparatus. Just minutes later, CalTrans officials updated that they had removed several large, two-foot boulders from the roadway and were turning around to make another pass through the area.

A firefighter sets a backfire along Highway 299 in an effort to slow the blaze’s rapid growth. Mike Daly photo

At 7:39 p.m., CHP reported that a telephone pole had caught fire and that the intense heat had caused the phone lines to sag dangerously low to the ground, within the westbound lane of 299, near MM 88.5. Rather than cut the lines, Cal Trans officials decided to cone off the dangerous area. All inbound apparatus would be directed around the sagging lines and forced to use the eastbound lane.

Many area firefighters, already exhausted after having been battling the nearby Carr Fire burning in and around Redding, are now helping fight the Hat Fire.

The Carr Fire, which began near Whiskeytown and has been burning since July 23, has consumed nearly 180,000 acres, and destroyed 1,077 homes and more than 500 other structures, according to Cal Fire officials. As of 7 p.m. Thursday, firefighters had brought the fire’s containment to 49%.

At one point, as the fire jumped the Sacramento River and roared into W. Redding, only to continue growing, more than 28,000 people were evacuated from their homes, with some reportedly receiving so little evacuation notice, they literally dropped everything and fled for their lives. Evacuations still remain in effect for some Redding area residents. Click here for information related to the Carr Fire.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

Click any image to open full-size gallery.

More photos being uploaded. Please check back soon.

Mike Daly video

Mike Daly video

Mike Daly video

As of 2 a.m., more than 16 miles of Highway 299 remains closed.

 

UPDATED: Aug. 9, 5:50 p.m. FRM “Hat Fire” at 300 ac. & could reach 1,000 “due to critical rate of spread”

FALL RIVER MILLS — The fast moving Hat Fire burning in Fall River Mills has grown to more than 300 acres with zero percent containment after just two hours and jumped Highway 299, as winds in the area and dry vegetation push the fire along at a “critical rate of spread,” according to fire and law enforcement officials. The fire has the potential to grow to more than 1,000 acres, according to Burney Fire Protection District.

Reports from the scene and via official radio traffic indicate that structures are now being threatened on both sides of the highway and evacuations are now underway for all residents with homes west of Glenburn Road in the Fall River Mills area “right below Soldier Mountain Rd.” Other parts of Fall River Mills had reportedly begun evacuating as well, with CHP and Shasta County Sheriff’s Office assisting with the evacuations.

As of 4:50 p.m., Pit 1 Power House had begun evacuating. By 6 p.m., several short power outages had been reported in Johnson Park and Burney, as well as throughout the Intermountain area. At 6:07 p.m., power throughout the area shut off again and remained off.

Officers have closed all traffic on Highway 299 from Pit 1 Grade west of Fall River to Cassel Rd. east of Burney, and Cal Trans officials had responded to the scene to assist with the ongoing road closures.

An evacuation center which had been established at Intermountain Fair Grounds was soon moved further from the danger area to Fall River High School In McArthur, at 44215 Walnut St, but have warned that could change based on the fire’s spread.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

 

UPDATED: 5:15 p.m., Evacuation orders along Glen Burn Rd. and parts of FRM

UPDATED: 4:45 p.m., Eight tankers just requested to scene

UPDATED: 3:45 p.m., With additional road closure information

Closures now in effect on Highway 299 from Cassel Road, just east of Burney, to Pit One Grade, west of Fall River Mills.

FALL RIVER MILLS — Firefighters are battling a new threat after a fast-moving fire erupted earlier this afternoon, north of Highway 299 near Fish Hatchery Road, in Fall River Mills.

Within minutes of being reported, officials updated that the so-called “Hat Fire” had already grown to 50 acres, with a “critical rate of spread … with the potential of it growing to 1,000 acres,” according to a CHP incident log. By 4:30 p.m., the blaze had grown to 150 acres, SHASCOM radio traffic indicated.

9-11 mph winds were not helping firefighter’s efforts, as temperatures throughout the Intermountain area hover in the mid-90’s with 15% humidity.

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Fall River Mills Fire Department, Cal Fire, Burney Fire Protection District, and other area fire agencies, along with CHP and other emergency personnel, were first notified of the fire at 2:38 p.m., after a 911 caller reported spotting a “large plume of smoke” billowing from behind the Hat Creek Rifle and Pistol Club.

Within minutes, local fire companies and apparatus from around the area began to pour into Fall River Mills and immediately began to report the dangerous nature of the blaze; requesting a full wildland fire response, including multiple helicopters and additional assistance.

Cal Fire officials requested CHP to the scene to assist with directing traffic in the area, with a focus on Hwy. 299, which was becoming clogged with incoming fire teams and apparatus.

Spotter planes and helicopters were soon flying over the area, followed by air and retardant-dropping heavy tankers, which began making initial passes over the area shortly afterward.

Just after 3:30 p.m., officials at the scene requested additional fire units to Cassel Fire Rd., as firefighters attempted to get a handle on the growing blaze.

At 3:45 p.m., County Roads updated that flames had reached the highway and moments later Cal Fire requested CHP close down all traffic on Hwy. 299.

According to CHP’s incident log, officers were shutting the highway down from the Fall River side first at Pit 1 Grade, followed by a closure at Cassel Rd., and officers requested Cal Trans officials to the scene to assist with road closures.

At 4:45 p.m., officials at the scene requested eight tankers to assist with the fast-growing blaze, SHASCOM radio traffic indicated.

Shortly after 5 p.m., a fire chief at the scene ordered residents along Glenburn Rd. “right below Soldier Mountain Rd.” begin evacuating. Just 15 minutes later officials updated that parts of Fall River Mills had begun evacuating as well and that all road closures needed to remain in effect.

Fire crews and apparatus have been seen rolling through Burney with lights and sirens and officials have reminded area residents to immediately yield to any oncoming fire or law enforcement vehicles and not try to go near the fire for a better view.

This is a developing story that will be updated as new information is available.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

Trevor Montgomery, 47, recently moved to the Intermountain area of Shasta County from Riverside County and runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for several other news organizations, including Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News, The Valley Chronicle and Anza Valley Outlook, as well as Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County and The Mountain Echo in Shasta County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg, breaking his back and suffering both spinal cord and brain injuries in an off-duty accident. (Click here to see segment of Discovery Channel documentary of Trevor’s accident.)

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 27 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and his “fluid family” boasts 13 children and 14 – soon to be 16 – grandchildren.

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