A reinvigorated wildfire that started last week in Klamath National Forest picked up speed through the weekend, nearly tripling in size over the course of Sunday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The Lime Fire, located west of Interstate 5 and north of Highway 96 in the forest's Lime Gulch area, is just under 1,200 acres with no reported containment, according to an incident update by the Forest Service. At least 176 fire personnel are assigned to the wildfire.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office has issued evacuation warnings for the area between Ash Creek and Gottsville, and the Forest Service has warned motorists to take "extreme caution" along Highway 96 in the area of the fire.
The Forest Service says the Lime Fire was one of more than 40 separate, confirmed wildfires that broke out within Klamath National Forest during a Wednesday thunderstorm, with most believed to have been caused by lightning. The Lime Fire was not detected until late Thursday morning, according to a Forest Service incident report.
The wildfire is burning dry brush and grass on steep slopes, making firefighter access difficult. Air support has been limited due to other large wildfires across Northern California, Forest Service officials said.
"Erratic fire behavior on Lime and the loss of aviation support diverted to another fire with residences immediately threatened contributed to initial attack actions being unsuccessful," the Forest Service said in a Sunday morning news release.
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Given those conditions, the Forest Service's incident page for the Lime Fire predicts the blaze will not be fully contained for more than six weeks, burning into mid-October.
The Lime Fire grew from 30 acres to 200 acres within a few hours last Friday. The blaze reached 400 acres by Sunday morning and expanded beyond 1,100 acres as of a Sunday evening incident update by the Forest Service.
Nic Elmquist, a fire behavior analyst for Incident Management Team 15, said in a Monday morning video briefing that the Lime Fire was reported at just under 1,200 acres as of 6:30 a.m. Monday.
Elmquist also explained why high fire danger persists in the forest despite cool temperatures and high humidity overnight.
"Because of the high fuel loads we had because of the increase in precipitation in the winter, there's a lot of grass and brush," Elmquist said. "All the grass has been cured, meaning it's ready to burn, but it takes a little bit before it dries out each day. So every afternoon around 2 or 3 o'clock ... we're starting to see the fire get more established."