Forest Service takes heat for fuel load in Gap Fire

Kassi Nelsonpublished by NBC Klamath

Horse Creek, Calif. —  Much of the Horse Creek Community is turned to ash after the Gap Fire took off late last month, but residents believe the damage could have been avoided.

“There are fire lines that used to be maintained back in the 70’s and 80’s, but have not been maintained for many years,” resident Nephi Hartshorn said.

Hartshorn and his neighbors said they’ve been concerned about the brush building up on US Forest Service land near their homes and have been asking them to do something about it for nearly two decades.

“What we need to do is we just need to get this forest cleaned up, and it’s not being done that’s the bottom line,” neighbor Rudy Murieen said.

Murieen said people in the area have had meetings with local officials including the sheriff, district attorney, and the Forest Service to talk about fuel reductions. He said plans to reduce fuels have been approved, but they’re never carried out.

“The answers I got a lot of times was they didn’t have the money to implement it into the forest,” he said.

But Hartshorn said that price seems small compared to the value of land and homes.

“It makes me sad,”  he said. “There was a great chance that this fire could have been slowed down or even stopped so that’s frustrating.”

Multiple calls to the US Forest Service to ask about past fuel reduction projects were not returned.

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