'Nothing is normal anymore': Klondike Fire's explosion forces crews to re-evaluate

Oak Flat area threatened by Klondike Fire.

Since Sunday, a spot fire from the Klondike Fire has exploded by 5000 acres three months after it originally started.

"Nothing is normal anymore," Kale Casey, public information officer for the Klondike Fire, said.

Emergency personnel were preparing for the Klondike Fire to calm down, not flare up on Sunday.

"I took my troops and we went up to Agness and started making notifications," Curry County Sheriff John Ward said.

Ward says he was not notified until 6:30 Sunday night about the fire's explosive growth that reportedly started around noon.

"People can get ahold of me, my cell phone is on me 24/7," Ward said. "I drove into the fairgrounds where the command base was, looked at the map and I said 'holy hell.'"

Ward and many Curry County residents were under the impression the Klondike Fire was winding down. Unfortunately, strong, sustained winds blew embers from inside the fire lines into the west Klondike Fire camp, approximately five to six miles away - which is rare.

"Everybody hopes that these events just end with the weather, and with the fall, but if our summers are lasting longer or if the fire conditions are lasting longer, I think we'll see more of these types of situations," Casey said.

The Klondike Fire camp even had to move further west to Gold Beach with some of their bigger equipment. Casey doesn't just blame the winds for creating this problem, though.

"In the October and November months, when we should be getting relief from mother nature, instead we're getting record temperatures or continued record dry, or not enough rain to support putting this fire to bed," Casey said.

Those conditions forced Governor Kate Brown to declare the Klondike Fire a conflagration. Casey added that many of the crews on the fire were more suited towards repairing the area than attacking the fire, but within 24 hours a brand new firefighting crew had arrived.

"As you're decreasing your firefighting footprint to do the repair, you don't have as many specialized crews that are used to doing firefighting. you have more of the crews that are used to cleaning things up," Casey said.

Unfortunately, with the long-lasting summer conditions, Casey believes this foreshadows fire seasons to come: longer, hotter, drier weather that fires take advantage of deep into typically fall or winter months.

For a full list of evacuation notices, including Level 3 and Level 2 evacuations, click here.


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