2018 Klondike fire flares anew

The 1.5-acre Black fire rekindled itself from last year's Klondike fire. PhotoUSFS




Last year’s massive Klondike fire apparently burped back to life this weekend with the flare-up of a small fire believed to have been caused by embers that were never completely extinguished by last winter’s rains.

Smoke-detection cameras Saturday afternoon led to the discovery of a 1.5-acre wildfire burning within the 175,328-acre footprint of last year’s Klondike fire, according to the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.

Four crew members from the forest’s Siskiyou Rappellers were the first on scene, followed by two wildland engines and two helicopters to quell the blaze, which was discovered in a snag patch. It was ruled not human caused but likely from unquenched embers, according to the Forest Service.

Forest spokeswoman Virginia Gibbons said it is not uncommon to see flare-ups like this well after a fire is thought to be out, especially in very remote areas and it is “impossible” to survey every square yard of fires like the Klondike in search of embers to snuff.

Similar flare-ups occurred in the 2017 Chetco Bar fire, in which burned in many of the same areas as the Klondike fire, Gibbons said.

“We’re sure there’s stuff that’s out there smoldering, eventually burns itself out and nobody knows,” Gibbons said. “We might see a couple more from the Klondike before it’s all through. Time will tell.”

At 1.5 acres, the flare-up — named the Black fire — is the largest fire so far this season in the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest, the agency said.

The Black fire will be carefully gridded out by fire crews over the next several days to ensure it is completely out.

The Klondike fire was one of more than 200 fires that broke out during a July 15 lightning storm last year in Southern Oregon, initially igniting in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area about 9 miles southwest of Selma.

It burned largely in the footprint of the 2002 Biscuit fire and in portions of the 2017 Chetco Bar fire, and at times it threatened the communities of Agness and Selma, according to the Forest Service. It was deemed contained Nov. 28, 2018, and cost about $104 million to fight, according to the Forest Service.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTwriterFreeman.

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