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Firefighters make some progress on Northern California blaze

by David Benda, Redding Record-Searchlight |

Aided by lower temperatures and calmer winds, firefighters were able to get some containment on the Red Bank Fire in Northern California overnight.

The fire grew from 6,000 acres to 6,500 acres, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The wildfire is burning about 25 miles west of Red Bluff in remote terrain with difficult access.

“Some of that area we are just unable to access, so we will do what we call an indirect attack, putting a bunch of dozer lines and hand lines in and let the fire come to us,” Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said.

Among the goals for Friday is to keep the fire west of Red Bank Oaks and south of Highway 36 West.

Ground crews Friday were to be helped by aircraft, which took off to battle the blaze around 8 a.m.

McLean said the fire is burning in a northerly direction.

All evacuation orders and road closures that were posted Thursday night remain in place, McLean said.

The fire was reported around 11:23 a.m. Thursday and is burning in a northerly direction in rural and rugged terrain. It is an area known to be populated with hunting cabins.

“Evidently there are seasonal cabins, so that is in an indication of the type of terrain, very steep, very rugged,” McLean said.

Tehama County Fire spokesman Dave Doughty said the area where the fire is burning is sparsely populated, and there are not many roads.

“It’s a remote area of the county, mostly grazing land for cattle, so shrub oaks woodland,” he said.

Lightning caused the Red Bank Fire, McLean said.

The blaze began with a lightning strike in the area near Balis Bell Road and Lanyan Trail. Fire crews initially responded to the fast-growing fire at 11:33 a.m. on Thursday, McLean said.

Temperatures are expected to be in the low to mid-90s Friday.

“We were looking at nice, lower temperatures last night, bringing in higher humidity, which kind of stifles the fire,” McLean said.

Weekend weather also will be relatively cool.

The high in Red Bluff is expected to be 87 Saturday and 92 Sunday with lows overnight in the high 50s and low 60s, the National Weather Service said.

Winds are expected to be light and variable.