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Trinity Fire Still Raging in Wilderness Area

From Times Wire Services

A fire in the Trinity National Forest entered its second week after destroying nearly 7,500 acres of timber worth an estimated $45 million.

By mid-afternoon Wednesday, 2,069 workers had carved a containment line around 75% of the fire area about 44 miles southwest of Red Bluff.

“It’s rocky, steep ground and they’re really having hard access, especially to the wilderness area, since there are no roads,” said Evelyn Dollarhide of the U.S. Forest Service fire information center. “It is virgin timber that’s never been cut before.”

Losses to timber, watershed and animals totaled an estimated $45 million. Thirteen minor injuries had been reported since the fire’s spread from a timber operation on private land, she said.

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Full containment is not expected until Monday, said Bob Tyrrel, supervisor for the Shasta and Trinity forests.

The fire was accidentally started during a commercial logging operation.

Much of the Douglas fir and pine burned in the fire was old-growth timber, including about 2,300 acres within the Yolla Bolly Wilderness, said Ken Showalter, Mt. Shasta district ranger.

“We are aggressively fighting that fire in the wilderness area,” he said.

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Tyrrel said established rules for wilderness areas have been discarded in the fight against the blaze, located in remote terrain.

He said he would have made the move even if the Trinity fire had taken place before the lightning-caused fire in Yellowstone National Park that destroyed about half of the 2.2-million-acre park.

“We decided to go ahead and suppress it because conditions are so dry,” said Matt Mathes of the Forest Service’s regional office in San Francisco. “Our consistent policy has been always to look at wilderness fires on a case-by-case basis and decide whether to put them out or let nature run its course.”


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