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Mandatory evacuations lifted at Gap fire

SEIAD VALLEY — Mandatory evacuations issued over the weekend for Northern California residents near the Gap fire's southern flank have been lifted as firefighters continue to make progress on containment efforts.

Those evacuation notices, issued Saturday for both sides of Highway 96 between Scott River Road and Walker Gulch, and on Ladd Road west from Hick’s Gulch to Walker Gulch on the north side of the Klamath River, have been dropped to "advisory" evacuations. All other previously issued advisory evacuation notices have been lifted.

The fire, which sparked Aug. 27, had grown to 29,759 acres as of Wednesday morning, according to the Incident Information System wildfire information website. It is considered 65 percent contained. The northern and southern flanks remain a priority, as containment lines on the western and eastern boundaries continue to hold.

"We continue to make good progress along Highway 96," said public information officer Duane Lyon, adding crews continue to try and keep flames on the north side of the Klamath River, with continual monitoring of spotting across the water to the south side. "But it's extremely steep and (has) hardly any roads to provide access."

Due to ongoing progress, the Westside Recovery Project logging salvage operation, located on Klamath National Forest lands southwest of the Seiad Valley near the fire boundary, has resumed. Project officials say drivers along Highway 96 should drive with extreme caution, as anywhere from 40 to 50 log trucks will be on the stretch of road, adding to the fire vehicles already assisting with fire suppression.

Since it ignited, the blaze has destroyed at least nine homes and 14 outbuildings. Recently, it burned down two additional structures in the Hick's Gulch area, though it's not known whether they were homes or outbuildings.

There are currently 2,118 personnel on the fire. The cause is not known, and U.S. Forest Service officials are asking anyone with information about how it started to call 530-841-4474.

Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

This photo from the Gap fire front lines was taken by Corey Wilford.