Firefighters unload against 1,200-acre Coffin Fire

LEWISTON – Air tankers and helicopters swooped over Lewiston on Thursday, halting the human-caused Coffin Fire from advancing into the Trinity County town.

“Having aircraft on a fire on steep terrain like this is critical,” said David Shew, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman. “Without that support from the air, it makes the work on the ground much more difficult.”

Fire commanders had vowed to “paint the hillside” fire-retardant red Thursday in an aerial assault they hoped would protect homes. On Thursday, air tankers dropped more than 55,000 gallons of retardant, following the 119,000 gallons dropped Wednesday, Shew said.

Pilots’ efforts, aided by weather and fuel conditions that kept the blaze from spreading quickly, appeared to have paid off. Shew said the air tankers and helicopters kept the fire from spreading Thursday across fire lines first etched Wednesday.

As of Friday morning, the Coffin Fire was estimated at 1,200 acres and was 50 percent contained, Cal Fire officials said.

The fire should be fully contained, or encircled in a fire line, tonight and out Tuesday, he said.

“There is about one mile still to build around the perimeter of it,” Shew said Thursday evening.

Two firefighters were injured Thursday in the blaze. One suffered a small cut from a chain saw, and the other suffered a heat-related injury. Both injuries were considered minor, Shew said.
Story and photo via The Record Searchlight

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