The Carr Fire, California’s sixth most destructive fire ever, ripped through 100 percent of Whiskeytown National Recreation Area causing extensive damage to buildings, power lines and countless pieces of infrastructure. The damage was deemed “historic” and will close down the park for the remainder of the summer, with no current plans to reopen.
On Sunday, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will visit the park to assess the damage, an important step in allocating future funds to rebuild the park. He will be accompanied by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and they will hold a joint press conference on Monday.
Officials have opened the Visitors Center and park overlook for visitors, which will surely give visitors a grim look at the charred remains of the park, but everything else off the road remains closed. Cars driving through the park will be led by a pilot car.
The Carr Fire started on July 23 from and quickly blazed through the park and into Redding, burning nearly 200,000 acres and destroying over 1,600 buildings. The fire remains active, although currently out of most of the Whiskeytown area, and currently sits at 57 percent contained.
The damage at the park was extensive. Utility poles and power lines are down throughout the park and a sewage treatment plant was destroyed. At least seven cabins were destroyed at the popular N.E.E.D. Camp, an environmental camp for elementary students. Oak Bottom Marina was hit hard by the fire, including the destruction of over 40 boats.
Although many popular areas in the park were destroyed, some destinations remained intact. Brandy Creek Beach and Marina made it through the fire with little damage. The Visitor’s Center was also spared from the destruction.
With Whiskeytown being a National Park, they will have to wait for the assessment and funding allocation from Washington before beginning the rebuilding process. It’s still undetermined how many federal buildings were destroyed and how much money will be allocated for the rebuilding process. Park officials won’t be able to determine a timeline of the park reopening until funding is established from the federal government.
The charred remains of our beloved park are a grim reminder of the senseless destruction of fire season in Northern California. But as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future – we will rebuild!
Northern California’s Outdoor Digital Newsmagazine