Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Unhealthy Air Quality Intensifies as Fires Continue

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2020 at 11:32 AM

click to enlarge Firefighters hold the line during a burning operation on the northwest flank of the August Complex North Zone on Sept. 26, 2020. These firefighters are positioned with the job of looking into the unburned forest while watching for spot fires created by embers floating across the control line in the wind. This way they can quickly respond to these spotfires to contain them. - PHOTO CREDIT: MIKE MCMILLAN/USFS.
  • Photo Credit: Mike McMillan/USFS.
  • Firefighters hold the line during a burning operation on the northwest flank of the August Complex North Zone on Sept. 26, 2020. These firefighters are positioned with the job of looking into the unburned forest while watching for spot fires created by embers floating across the control line in the wind. This way they can quickly respond to these spotfires to contain them.
With smoke from the Red Salmon Complex, the August Complex and the Slater Devil fire combining, an Air Quality Alert is issued today for Hoopa and Willow Creek, and an Air Quality Advisory is issued today for Orleans, Weitchpec, Bridgeville, and Garberville.

Eureka (from Rio Dell to Trinidad, along the coast) will have overall moderate conditions with periods of unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups. Orleans and Weitchpec will see unhealthy conditions, while Hoopa and Willow Creek will see hazardous conditions. Bridgeville will have unhealthy to very unhealthy conditions. Garberville and Redway will see very unhealthy air quality.

August North Zone Complex
: (all zones) 949,055 acres, 47 percent containment

Although the strong winds have died down, fire danger at the North Zone of the August Complex fire is still extreme. Dense smoke is polluting the air and is making it hard for fire personnel to see as they reported zero visibility.

The fire is spreading north of State Route 36 on both sides of the South Fork Trinity River.

An Evacuation Warning was issued and is still in effect for the areas east of Alderpoint Road to the Trinity County border and south of Showers Pass Road to Mountain Creek in Humboldt County.

State Route 36 is closed at  Zenia Bluffs Road at Humboldt County Line.

"Fire behavior remains active, with tree torching and uphill runs. Green pockets of vegetation continue to ignite near Forest Glen and Ruth Lake, posing on-going threats to structures. Firefighters are still working hard in Ruth, Post Mountain, Forest Glen, Three Forks, Hoaglin, Zenia, Kettenpom, Hettenshaw, and other affected communities to reduce hazards, protect structures, and conduct structure triage," the update reads.

Red Salmon Complex: 122,667 acres, 31 percent containment

The warmer weather and wind directions are causing increased smoke, which is combining with smoke from the August Complex Fire, which will most likely persist through the next few days.

Community meetings will be held at 11 a.m. today, outside Forks of Salmon
School and at 1:30 p.m. in Willow Creek, outside the Ceilville Community Center.

Planning is underway for a community meeting in the Hoopa Valley, date and time TBA.

According to today's update, crews completed a combination of dozer line and handline to control a 100-acre slopover in the western area of the fire, near the Colgrove Branch of Mill Creek.

Slater Devil Fire:  Slater: 154,145 acres, 45 percent containment
Devil: 8,410 acres, 20 percent containment

According to today's update, the fire line continues to hold well with minimal movement and growth.

In both the north and south area of the Slater fire, firefighters primary work
is mop-up, patrol, and securing the fire’s edge as fuels continue to dry.
They will continue to monitor and build a containment line from the
Oregon/California border on the west side of Highway 199 east to the
Sucker Creek area.

In areas of the Devil fire, aerial water drops were used along the north edge of the fire to help with hotspots. Firefighters continue to mop-up, patrol, and secure the fire’s edge. Contingency lines are in place. The south edge of the fire has a containment line from the Pacific Crest Trail towards Fort Goff Creek.

The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region extended the Regional Order (closure) through September 30, 2020, temporarily closing nine national forests, including the Six Rivers and Klamath National Forests. The region is under emergency fire restrictions.

Read all press releases regarding fire and air quality updates below.
The North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District (NCUAQMD) update

The August Complex North Zone update
The Red Salmon Complex update
The Slater Devil Fire update

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Iridian Casarez

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Iridian Casarez is a staff writer at the North Coast Journal.

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