Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Public Health Confirms 119 New COVID-19 Cases, Capping Month of Grim Records

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2021 at 3:45 PM

PUBLIC HEALTH
  • public health

Humboldt County Public Health confirmed 119 new COVID-19 cases today — making 237 so far this week — as well as two new hospitalizations.

Today's cases — which were confirmed after laboratories processed 511 samples with a test-positivity rate of 23.3 precent — close a brutal August, which saw more than 2000 new cases locally, eclipsing the combined totals for the post-holiday surge months of December and January. August also saw records of 98 new hospitalizations and 22 deaths, accounting for 30 percent of the total hospitalizations and 29 percent of the total deaths recorded locally through the duration of the 18-month pandemic.

"This month, by far, has been the deadliest of the pandemic as new hospitalizations strain the local healthcare system," Public Health reported.

A state database, meanwhile, shows 37 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally with eight under intensive care, as hospital capacity remains an acute concern among health officials.

One previously reported death has been removed from the county's total, which now sits at 75, the county reported, explaining that further consultation with the individuals medical team determined COVID-19 was not the cause of their death.

After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County jumped to a record 15.9 percent in August, far outpacing state (4.7 percent) and national (10.6 percent) rates.

At a press conference lat week, Hoffman said St. Joseph Hospital is in the midst of finalizing an agreement with the state to send a team of nurses to the hospital as an ongoing staffing shortage — coupled with the surge in COVID-19 cases — is limiting capacity. Further, Hoffman said, the surge has limited capacity to the point that local hospitals have canceled non-emergency procedures, including heart and cancer surgeries, to preserve staffing.

Hoffman reiterated that vaccinations remain very effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death, noting that's reflected in the county's current hospitalization census.

"The vast majority are the unvaccinated," he said.

According to the county's dashboard, 52.4 percent of local residents are now fully vaccinated, with another 6.85 percent having received one dose. While the average daily case rates among fully vaccinated residents have dropped sharply since the county reimplemented a mandatory masking order Aug. 7 — falling from 28 cases per 100,000 residents to 16 — rates among unvaccinated residents remain critically high at 83 per 100,000 residents.

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Earlier this month, the county also reported that due to the record-high case volume, it will be making some changes to its dashboard and data collection practices moving forward. Specifically, the county will drop the "cases cleared" section of its dashboard because it's become too time consuming to track all patients through their illnesses, while also discontinuing updates to its "transmission type" section because "data show the virus is widespread in our communities to the extent that it is frequently impossible" to determine how someone was infected.

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UPDATE: 'Leave Now for Your Safety:' New Evacuation Orders for Knob Fire near Willow Creek

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2021 at 2:51 PM

The glow of the Monument Fire through the trees at night. - PHOTO BY CHRIS AYER, CORONA FIRE DEPARTMENT
  • Photo by Chris Ayer, Corona Fire Department
  • The glow of the Monument Fire through the trees at night.
SECOND UPDATE:

The evacuation order has been expanded again to include areas east of State Route 299 to the Trinity River, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Friday Ridge Road, due to shifting winds and increased fire activity on the northeast flank of the Knob Fire, according to the Humboldt County’s Sheriff’s Office in a 3:15 p.m. update.


UPDATE:

The Knob Fire evacuation order has been expanded to all areas east of Brushy Mountain Lookout Road/Forest Route 6N08A to Highway 299, south of Butterfly Creek Road to the end of Forest Route 6N20.

“Leave now for your safety,” a Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office post states.

PREVIOUS:
The Knob Fire has grown to 1,000 acres, with 0 percent containment, since starting Sunday near Willow Creek, prompting evacuation orders and warnings in the area and leaving about 1,100 people without power.

The cause has not been determined and the estimated containment date is Oct. 3.

Evacuation orders are in effect for areas east of Brushy Mountain Lookout Road to State Route 299, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Friday Ridge Road.

Evacuation warnings are in effect for areas east of Boise Creek to the Trinity River, south of Panther Creek Road to Butterfly Creek Road and east of State Route 299 to the Trinity River, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Friday Ridge Road as well as areas east of Forest Route 6N39 to the South Fork Trinity River, south of Friday Ridge Road to Old Campbell Creek.

China Creek Road at Hodgson Road, Burwood Drive at State Route 299 and Gypo Lane at State Route 299 haved been closed due to the fire but may be used by residents who are evacuating.

An evacuation center is now operating at the McKinleyville Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 1200 Central Avenue. Services available include overnight sheltering, restrooms, water and Red Cross services.

Domestic and large animal sheltering is available at the Hoopa Rodeo Grounds, located on Pine Creek Road in Hoopa.

As of 8 a.m., State Route 299 was still open but travelers are encouraged to visit http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ to check for state highway closures.

More information regarding the Knob Fire, current impact and evacuation areas, can be found at humboldtsheriff.org, @HumCoOES on Facebook and Twitter, or by calling 707-268-2500.

Read the HCSO release below and find the Knob Fire incident page here:
Evacuation warnings and orders remain in effect for the China Creek and Friday Ridge areas as fire crews work to contain the Knob Fire near Willow Creek.

CURRENT SITUATION

The Knob Fire originated Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021 between 4:00 and 5:00 pm. It is burning in timber, brush and grass. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is leading fire suppression efforts. According to the USFS, as of 8 a.m. August 31, the Knob Fire is approximately 800 acres and 0% contained.

According to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company, approximately 1,100 customers are without power as of 8 a.m. August 31. See outage map:

https://pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/outages/map/ Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies continue to patrol the mandatory evacuation zone and liaise with the USFS Incident Management Team.

EVACUATION INFORMATION

An EVACUATION ORDER remains in effect for: Areas east of Brushy Mountain Lookout Road to Highway 299, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Friday Ridge Road. An EVACUATION WARNING remains in effect for: Areas east of Boise Creek to the Trinity River, south of Panther Creek Road to Butterfly Creek Road. Areas east of Hwy 299 to the Trinity River, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Friday Ridge Road. Areas east of Forest Route 6N39 to the South Fork Trinity River, south of Friday Ridge Road to Old Campbell Creek.

A map of evacuation zones is available at tinyurl.com/humcoevacmap

CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS

The following road closures are in effect related to the Knob Fire: China Creek Road at Hodgson Road; Burwood Drive at State Route 299; Gypo Lane at State Route 299. The above routes are closed to entering traffic, but may be used by residents to leave the area in compliance with the evacuation order.

State Route 299 is currently open as of 8 a.m. Residents are encouraged to visit http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ to check for state highway closures.

RESOURCES FOR THE COMMUNITY

An Evacuation Center has been opened at the McKinleyville Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 1200 Central Avenue, McKinleyville, for evacuees. Resources available at this location include: Overnight sheltering; Restrooms; Water; Red Cross services.

Domestic and large animal sheltering is available at the Hoopa Rodeo Grounds, located on Pine Creek Road in Hoopa.

Voting Information for Wildfire Evacuees:

https://humboldtgov.org/2946/38197/Press-Releases-Notices-Recall2021

FOR MORE INFORMATION Additional updates will be issued via press release as needed. For more information regarding the Knob Fire, current impact and evacuation areas, please go to humboldtsheriff.org, visit @HumCoOES on Facebook and Twitter, or call 707-268-2500.


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Monday, August 30, 2021

THIRD UPDATE: New Evacuation Orders, Warnings for Knob Fire Near Willow Creek

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2021 at 9:51 PM

The Knob Fire burns south of Willow Creek early this morning. - BASHO PARKS/U.S. FOREST SERVICE FACEBOOK
  • Basho Parks/U.S. Forest Service Facebook
  • The Knob Fire burns south of Willow Creek early this morning.
THIRD UPDATE:

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has again updated evacuation orders and warnings for the Knob Fire burning near Willow Creek.

Evacuation orders are now in effect for areas east of Brushy Mountain Lookout Road to State Route 299, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Friday Ridge Road.

Evacuation warnings are in effect for areas east of Boise Creek to the Trinity River, south of Panther Creek Road to Butterfly Creek Road and east of State Route 299 to the Trinity River, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Friday Ridge Road as well as areas east of Forest Route 6N39 to the South Fork Trinity River, south of Friday Ridge Road to Old Campbell Creek.

“Residents under an evacuation warning should prepare for potential evacuations, including personal supplies and overnight accommodations,” the update states. “Be ready to go at a moment's notice.”

An evacuation center is now operating at the McKinleyville Seventh Day Adventist Church, located at 1200 Central Avenue. Services available include overnight sheltering, restrooms, water and Red Cross services. See the HCSO post below:

SECOND UPDATE:
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has updated evacuation orders and warnings for the Knob Fire burning near Willow Creek.

Evacuation orders are now in effect for areas west of State Route 299 to the end of China Creek, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Christian School Road, excluding residents on Christian School Road, as well as areas west of Forest Route 6N33 to the end of Fourmile Creek, south of Christian School Road to Friday Ridge Road.

Evacuation warnings are in effect for areas east of State Route 299 to the Trinity River, south of Panther Creek Road to Butterfly Creek Road and areas east of State Route 299 to the Trinity River, south of Butterfly Creek to Christian School Road, including residents on Christian School Road as well as areas east of Forest Route 6N33 to the Trinity River, south of Gypo Lane to Friday Ridge Road

“Residents under an evacuation warning should prepare for potential evacuations, including personal supplies and overnight accommodations,” the update states. “Be ready to go at a moment's notice.”
evac_map.jpg

UPDATE:

The Knob Fire burning near Willow Creek, prompting evacuations in the China Creek area, was 250 acres as of 8 a.m. today and 0 percent contained, according to an update from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

An evacuation order is in effect for Butterfly Creek Lane south to Gypo Lane and evacuation warnings are in effect for residents living west of the Trinity River in the areas of Panther Road south to Butterfly Creek Road and Gypo Lane south to Friday Ridge Road. A map of evacuation zones is available at tinyurl.com/humcoevacmap.

Road closures are in effect at China Creek Road at Hodgson Road, Burwood Drive at State Route 299 and Gypo Lane at State Route 299.

“The above routes are closed to entering traffic, but may be used by residents to leave the area in compliance with the evacuation order,” the HCSO update states.

The fire started yesterday around 3 p.m. on Brush Mountain.

An Evacuation Center is open at the Willow Creek Bible Church, located at 39 Brannan Mountain Road, Willow Creek, for evacuees. Resources available at site include overnight sheltering, restrooms, water and Red Cross services.

Domestic and large animal sheltering is available at the Hoopa Rodeo Grounds, located on Pine Creek Road in Hoopa.

State Route 299 was open as of 8 a.m. but travelers are encouraged to visit http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ to check for state highway closures.

More information regarding the Knob Fire, current impact and evacuation areas, can be found at humboldtsheriff.org, @HumCoOES on Facebook and Twitter, or by calling 707-268-2500.


Find the full HCSO release at the end of the article.


PREVIOUS:

A new fire sparked last night south of Willow Creek and quickly spread to more than 30 acres, prompting evacuations.

The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office issued an immediate evacuation order shortly before 10 p.m. for residents west of the Trinity River in the area of Butterfly Creek Lane south to Hypo Lane, with a warning for residents in the areas west of the Trinity River from Panther Road to Butterfly Creek Road, and from Gypo Road south to Friday Ridge Road.

An evacuation center has been set up at the Willow Creek Bible Church, with domestic and large animal sheltering available at the Hoopa Rodeo Grounds.

"Prepare for potential evacuation, including personal supplies and overnight accommodations," the Sheriff's Office advised in a Facebook post. "Be ready to go at a moment's notice."

An evening update for the nearby Monument Fire, which is burning east of Willow Creek along State Route 299 around Burnt Ranch, advises the Knob Fire is burning in the China Creek drainage about 2 miles south of Willow Creek and had grown to an estimated 30 acres as of 7 p.m. yesterday. Five helicopters were making water drops on the fire, according to the update, while seven engines, a water tender and other resources were mobilized from the Monument Fire to respond.

"We've been anticipating this uptick in fire behavior," Alaska Incident Management Team Operations Section Chief Karen Scholl said in the update. "We haven't seen the (smoke) lid come off of this fire since we've been here. It's going to be a challenge because we don't have enough resources to go around. WE'll be trying to hold what we've got."

Fifty structures were reportedly threatened by the Knob Fire as of last night. It's unclear what started the fire and to what degree the new blaze has been contained.

The current evacuation map for the Knob Fire. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Humboldt County Sheriff's Office
  • The current evacuation map for the Knob Fire.

Smoke from the Knob Fire seen from State Route 299 yesterday evening. - U.S. FOREST SERVICE FACEBOOK
  • U.S. Forest Service Facebook
  • Smoke from the Knob Fire seen from State Route 299 yesterday evening.
The Knob Fire burns south of Willow Creek yesterday evening. - BASHO PARKS/U.S. FOREST SERVICE FACEBOOK
  • Basho Parks/U.S. Forest Service Facebook
  • The Knob Fire burns south of Willow Creek yesterday evening.

Read the HCSO release below:
Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE

Evacuation warnings and orders remain in effect for the China Creek area as fire crews work to contain the Knob Fire near Willow Creek.

CURRENT SITUATION

The Knob Fire originated Aug. 29, 2021 at approximately 3 p.m. on Brush Mountain in the China Creek watershed. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is leading fire suppression efforts. According to the USFS, as of 8 a.m. August 30, the Knob Fire is approximately 250 acres and 0% contained. 

Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies continue to patrol the mandatory evacuation zone and staff roadblocks.

EVACUATION INFORMATION

An EVACUATION ORDER remains in effect for residents in the area of:

Butterfly Creek Lane south to Gypo Lane.

An EVACUATION WARNING remains in effect for residents West of the Trinity River in the areas of:

Panther Road south to Butterfly Creek Road;

Gypo Lane south to Friday Ridge Road.

A map of evacuation zones is available at tinyurl.com/humcoevacmap

CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS

The following road closures are in effect related to the Knob Fire:

China Creek Road at Hodgson Road;

Burwood Drive at State Route 299;

Gypo Lane at State Route 299.

The above routes are closed to entering traffic, but may be used by residents to leave the area in compliance with the evacuation order.

State Route 299 is currently open as of 8 a.m. Residents are encouraged to visit http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/ to check for state highway closures.

RESOURCES FOR THE COMMUNITY

An Evacuation Center remains active at the Willow Creek Bible Church, located at 39 Brannan Mountain Road, Willow Creek, for evacuees. Resources available at this location include:

Overnight sheltering;

Restrooms;

Water;

Red Cross services.

Domestic and large animal sheltering is available at the Hoopa Rodeo Grounds, located on Pine Creek Road in Hoopa.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Additional updates will be issued via press release as needed.

For more information regarding the Knob Fire, current impact and evacuation areas, please go to humboldtsheriff.org, visit @HumCoOES on Facebook and Twitter, or call 707-268-2500.

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Public Health Confirms Five New COVID-19 Deaths, 10 New Hospitalizations

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2021 at 5:30 PM

Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Humboldt County Public Health Microbiologist Annayal Yikum prepares patient samples for the COVID-19 testing process.
Humboldt County has lost five more residents to COVID-19, Public Health reported today, adding that it has confirmed 10 new hospitalizations and 118 new cases since Friday.

The five deaths — including those of three residents in their 50s — come on the heels of six reported Friday and make 23 so far this month, as a brutal record-breaking surge driven by the highly contagious Delta variant continues locally.

The six deaths reported today included those of residents in their 30s, 50s, 60s and 80s, according to the press release.

The 118 new cases — which come after 447 new cases were reported last week — were confirmed after laboratories processed 332 samples with a test-positivity rate of 35.5 percent. The county reports that roughly 125 additional cases have been reported to the state's database but not yet confirmed locally.

A state database, meanwhile, shows a record 38 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally with a record 13 under intensive care, as hospital capacity remains an acute concern among health officials.

Today's confirmed cases make 1,885 so far this month, to go with 86 hospitalizations and 23 deaths, with August already accounting for 27 percent of the county's total cases, 26 percent of hospitalizations 30 percent of deaths throughout the duration of the 18-month pandemic. This month's total cases also now eclipse the combined monthly totals of the post-holiday surge in December and January.

In an email this morning responding to a request that the county do localized risk assessments by zip code as a part of its COVID-19 data dashboard, Health Officer Ian Hoffman was blunt in his response.

“The current state of COVID-19 in our community is that it is endemic, meaning it is everywhere,” he wrote. “We should all assume we now come into (contact with) multiple people a day who have COVID-19, regardless of where you live in Humboldt.”

After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County has jumped to 15.6 percent in August, far outpacing state (4.7 percent) and national (10.6 percent) rates.

At a press conference lat week, Hoffman said St. Joseph Hospital is in the midst of finalizing an agreement with the state to send a team of nurses to the hospital as an ongoing staffing shortage — coupled with the surge in COVID-19 cases — is limiting capacity. Further, Hoffman said, the surge has limited capacity to the point that local hospitals have canceled non-emergency procedures, including heart and cancer surgeries, to preserve staffing.

Hoffman reiterated that vaccinations remain very effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death, noting that's reflected in the county's current hospitalization census.

"The vast majority are the unvaccinated," he said.

According to the county's dashboard, 52.4 percent of local residents are now fully vaccinated, with another 6.85 percent having received one dose. While the average daily case rates among fully vaccinated residents have dropped sharply since the county reimplemented a mandatory masking order Aug. 7 — falling from 28 cases per 100,000 residents to 16 — rates among unvaccinated residents remain critically high at 83 per 100,000 residents.

Earlier this month, the county also reported that due to the record-high case volume, it will be making some changes to its dashboard and data collection practices moving forward. Specifically, the county will drop the "cases cleared" section of its dashboard because it's become too time consuming to track all patients through their illnesses, while also discontinuing updates to its "transmission type" section because "data show the virus is widespread in our communities to the extent that it is frequently impossible" to determine who someone was infected.

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Fire Updates: Knob Fire Impacting Air Quality; Windy Conditions Forecast in Some Fire Areas

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2021 at 2:17 PM

The glow of the Monument Fire through the trees at night. - PHOTO BY CHRIS AYER, CORONA FIRE DEPARTMENT
  • Photo by Chris Ayer, Corona Fire Department
  • The glow of the Monument Fire through the trees at night.
Firefighters battling the Knob Fire near Willow Creek and a series of fires burning to Humboldt County's east are continuing to face hot and dry conditions with strong winds in some areas.

State Route 299 has reopened during the day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena and State Route 36 is now open from the junction with State Route 3 to 1 mile west of Dry Creek

Air quality continues to be impacted by smoke, with an advisory in place for "unhealthy to hazardous" conditions in communities near the fire and Humboldt County seeing impacts ranging from "good" in along the coast to "unhealthy" in Willow Creek, mainly due to the Knob Fire.

With fires raging across the region and resources already stretched very thin, the U.S. Forest Service has temporarily closed nine National Forests, including Klamath, Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers.

Here's a brief look at each of the first burning near Humboldt and what you need to know.

The Fires

The Knob Fire, 250 acres, 0 percent contained

The Knob Fire burning near Willow Creek started Aug. 29 around 3 p.m. on Brush Mountain and resources from the Monument and McCash fires were sent to aid with firefighting efforts.

Evacuation orders are now in effect for areas west of State Route 299 to the end of China Creek, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Christian School Road, excluding residents on Christian School Road, as well as areas west of Forest Route 6N33 to the end of Fourmile Creek, south of Christian School Road to Friday Ridge Road.

Evacuation warnings are in effect for areas east of State Route 299 to the Trinity River, south of Panther Creek Road to Butterfly Creek Road and areas east of State Route 299 to the Trinity River, south of Butterfly Creek to Christian School Road, including residents on Christian School Road as well as areas east of Forest Route 6N33 to the Trinity River, south of Gypo Lane to Friday Ridge Road

“Residents under an evacuation warning should prepare for potential evacuations, including personal supplies and overnight accommodations,” the update states. “Be ready to go at a moment's notice.”

 A map of evacuation zones is available at tinyurl.com/humcoevacmap.

Road closures are in effect at China Creek Road at Hodgson Road, Burwood Drive at State Route 299 and Gypo Lane at State Route 299.

“The above routes are closed to entering traffic, but may be used by residents to leave the area in compliance with the evacuation order,” the HCSO update states.

An Evacuation Center is open at the Willow Creek Bible Church, located at 39 Brannan Mountain Road, Willow Creek, for evacuees. Resources available at site include overnight sheltering, restrooms, water and Red Cross services.

Domestic and large animal sheltering is available at the Hoopa Rodeo Grounds, located on Pine Creek Road in Hoopa.

The Monument Fire, 164,746 acres, 29 percent contained
Located a half mile west of Big Bar along State Route 299 east of Willow Creek, the Monument Fire was sparked by lightning on July 30.

State Route 299 has reopened but only during the day and with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena at designated times every three hours starting at 7 a.m. Pilot cars will leave east and west points at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The road will be closed after the last escorted group of the day until 7 a.m. for everyone, except local residents with proof of address and emergency traffic.

"With continued hot weather and clearer air, portions of the fire did become extremely active Sunday afternoon and into the night," today's update states. "Similar conditions are expected again today along with wind gusts of up to 25 miles an hour after 4 p.m. across some parts of the fire."

Evacuation orders are in effect for Barker Mountain, the NW portion of Hayfork Summit and North Hayfork Valley, north of Highway 3 including the north side of Hyampom Road from Hayfork to 9-mile bridge.

Evacuation warnings are in effect for Big Bar, Big Flat, Burnt Ranch, Douglas City, Junction City, areas south from Barker Mountain to Haystack, Denny, Hawkins Bar and Trinity Village. Additional areas south of State Road 3 and Hyampom Road from Hayfork Summit through the Town of Hayfork to 9-Mile Bridge are also in a warning status.

Evacuation centers have been set up at Shasta College, 11555 Old Oregon Trail, Building 1900, Redding CA; Willow Creek Bible Church, 39 Brannan Mountain Road, Willow Creek, CA; and Fireman’s Hall Pavilion, 9 Park Street in Fortuna.

For information on evacuation orders and warnings, evacutation sites and animal shelters, visit the Trinity County Sheriff's Office Facebook page here.

For more information, check the incident website here and a map of the fire's footprint here.

The McFarland Fire,
122,653 acres and is 94 percent contained
Sparked by lightning July 29 on McFarland Ridge south of State Route 36, the fire is burning in timberlands with fuels with historically low moisture levels in an area that hasn't burned in more than 50 years.

Firefighters were able to hold the fire to 122,653 acres during the weekend and "fire behavior is expected to be limited on the incident today," the update states.

"The weather is expected to be hot, dry and windy today and could cause interior fuels within the containment line to burn and cause smoke from within the fire area to be seen," the update states. "Firefighters will remain on patrol of the fire perimeter, perform mop up and remove excess equipment and trash from the fire area. The extended hot and dry weather will continue through today with minimum relative humidity around 10-12 percent and temperature to be in the mid 90s. There will be elevated fire weather concerns with northwest winds expected to increase with gusts of 25-30 mph on ridges and in aligned drainages."

Evacuation in Shasta and Tehama counties were lifted over the weekend. The Forest Closure Order for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest remains in place.
State Route 36 is now open from the junction with State Route 3 to 1 mile west of Dry Creek.

Find the latest information here and view a map of the fire's footprint here.

River Complex 2021, 98,832 acres, 23 percent contained
Located in the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest, the complex consists of multiple lightning fires sparked in dry timber and brush on July 30. Containment of the fire grew significantly since Tuesday. The full complex stretches nearly 99,000 acres and originally included 31 fires, three of which remain: the Cronan, Summer, and Haypress fires.

"Activity on the Summer fire was along the western border, as the fire progressed from Saint Clair Creek to French Creek. Crews continued to secure the north perimeter of the Haypress and hold the east fork of the Salmon River as the main fire progresses down from Fish Lake to their back burn operations," today's update states. "Fire activity has increased along the east flank of the Haypress, specifically north of the Three Sisters Gulch area along Upper Coffee Creek Road. Crews on the Cronan fire continue to hold and secure the control lines."

Evacuation orders are in effect for Cecilville, Summerville, Petersburg and Coffee Creek Road Past Sugar Pine Trailhead in Trinity County. A warning remains in place for Sawyers Bar, Coffee Creek and Trinity Center. The estimated date of containment is Oct. 1. Find more information here.

The McCash Fire:
36,398 acres, 1 percent containment
Sparked by lightning on July 31, the McCash Fire is burning near Somes Bar in the Marble Mountain Wilderness in Siskiyou County in an area of timber growth with an understory of tall grass and brush continued to grow overnight, reach nearly 30,000 acres.

"Night shift continued to work on holding and securing the line on the western edge of the fire. They patrolled the highway 96 corridor throughout the night to assess fire movement and smoke impacts to the roads," today's update states. "Firefighters have completed structure assessments and preparation from Dillon Campground to the Clear Creek area. Today crews will continue to secure the perimeter by mopping up hot spots along the west side."

A community meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. today at Gail Zink Park in Happy Camp.

Tempuratures are forecast to drop into the 80s throughout much of the fire area today and tomorrow with relative humidity at 15-20percent. Winds are expected to be 5 to 10 mph but with localized impacts from the terrain.

Evacuation orders and warnings are in place for areas of Siskiyou County. Visit the county's website for up-to-date information here.

The fire threatens significant cultural sites for the Karuk Tribe, as well as some structures on private lands. The current estimated containment date is Sept. 29. Find more information here.

Travel

State Route 299: Reopened during the day with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena at designated times every three hours starting at 7 a.m. and the last escort at 7 p.m. The road will be closed after the last escorted group of the day until 7 a.m. for everyone, except local residents with proof of address and emergency traffic.

State Route 36: Open except for in Lassen County where it's closed from Mooney Road in Westwood to the junction of State Route 44.

For the most up to date road information, visit CalTrans' road information site here.

Air Quality
Wildfire smoke has triggered an air quality advisory — with  "very unhealthy to hazardous" conditions — in areas of Trinity County, including Trinity Center/Coffee Creek and Hayfork in the "very unhealthy to hazardous" zone while Weaverville, Junction City, Douglas City, Platina and Lewiston are "unhealthy to very unhealthy" with periods of "hazardous," according to the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.

In Humboldt County, conditions are expected to "good" in Eureka (from Scotia to Trinidad) "moderate to unhealthy" in Hoopa and "unhealthy" in Willow Creek. Orleans is forcast to be overall "unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy."

For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good conditions
Orleans – USG to Unhealthy, smoke could remain heavy tonight
Hoopa Valley – Moderate to Unhealthy primarily due to Knob Fire, possibly worsen overnight
Willow Creek – Unhealthy primarily due to Knob fire, possibly worsen overnight
Garberville, Redway – Good to Moderate conditions
Weitchpec – Good to Moderate conditions


"Good" — air quality is satisfactory and poses little or no risk
"Moderate" — Sensitive individuals should limit prolonged or heavy exertion "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" — Sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
"Unhealthy" — Sensitive groups should avoid all prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
"Very Unhealthy" — Everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion
"Hazardous" — Everyone should avoid any outdoor activity
For the latest air quality information, click here and here.
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Schools Across Humboldt Serving Free Meals to Students, No Application Needed

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2021 at 11:42 AM

Schools across Humboldt County are serving free breakfasts and lunches to students at no charge this year.

No applications are required to qualify for the meals, which are extentions of the Seamless Summer Feeding Option program. For more specific information, parents or guardians can contact individual campuses, according to a news release from the Humboldt County Office of Education.

Read the full release and find a list of participating schools and districts below:

The following school districts/school sites have amended their policy for serving meals to students under the extended Seamless Summer Feeding Option for the 2021-2022 school year. All students will be served lunch and/or breakfast at no charge at the following sites:

Alder Grove Charter School, Arcata School District, Big Lagoon Union School District, Blue Lake Union School District, Bridgeville School District, Coastal Grove Charter School, Cuddeback Union School District, Cutten School District, Eureka City Schools Unified District, Ferndale Unified School District, Fieldbrook School District, Fortuna Elementary School District, Fortuna Union High School District, Freshwater School District, Fuente Nueva Charter School, Garfield School District, Humboldt County Office of Education, Hydesville School District, Jacoby Creek School District, Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District, Loleta Union School District, Mattole Unified School District, McKinleyville Union School District, Northern Humboldt Union High School District, Northern United Humboldt Charter, Orick School District, Pacific Union School District, Pacific View Charter School, Peninsula Union School District, Rio Dell School District, Scotia Union School District, South Bay Union School District, Southern Humboldt Unified School District, Trinidad Union School District, and Union Street Charter School.

Effective July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022, children are eligible for free meals at no charge.

Households are not required to submit an Application for the above mentioned school sites.

For additional information, please contact the school district where your student attends.

Nondiscrimination Statement

In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.

Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g. Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.

To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at: http://www.ascr.usda.gov/complaint_filing_cust.html External link opens in new window or tab., and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:

(1) mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2) fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3) email: program.intake@usda.gov.

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Saturday, August 28, 2021

Fire Updates: Crews Facing Hot, Dry Conditions Today as Smoke Impacts Extend to the Coast

Posted By on Sat, Aug 28, 2021 at 1:03 PM

A view of the River Complex in the distance. - INCIWEB
  • inciweb
  • A view of the River Complex in the distance.
Firefighters battling the handful of fires burning to Humboldt County's east are facing hot tempuratures and low humidity today as evacuation orders and warnings remain in effect for several nearby communities although evacuations due to the McFarland Fire have been lifted in Shasta and Tehama counties.

State Route 299 has reopened during the day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena and State Route 36 is now open from the junction with State Route 3 to 1 mile west of Dry Creek

Air quality continues to be impacted by smoke, with an advisory in place for "unhealthy to hazardous" conditions in communities near the fire and Humboldt County seeing impacts ranging from "moderate" to "unhealthy." Conditions along the coast are forecast to worsen in the afternoon.

With fires raging across the region and resources already stretched very thin, the U.S. Forest Service has temporarily closed nine National Forests, including Klamath, Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers.

Here's a brief look at each of the first burning near Humboldt and what you need to know.

The Fires

The Monument Fire, 160,148 acres, 22 percent contained
Located a half mile west of Big Bar along State Route 299 east of Willow Creek, the Monument Fire was sparked by lightning on July 30 and saw modest growth of about 5,000 acres since Tuesday. State Route 299 has reopened but only during the day and with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena at designated times every three hours starting at 7 a.m. Pilot cars will leave east and west points at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The road will be closed after the last escorted group of the day until 7 a.m. for everyone, except local residents with proof of address and emergency traffic.

While thick smoke is expected to help slow the fire's growth, crews will be facing the hottest and driest conditions forecast for this week and shifting winds.

 “It may seem a lot like yesterday and the days before, but please keep your guards up today,” Operations Section Chief Karen Scholl warned firefighters during their morning meeting today. “The changing winds and the possibility of clear air late this afternoon, along with the critically dry fuels, can be a dangerous combination.”

Evacuation orders remain in effect for Barker Mountain, the NW portion of Hayfork Summit and North Hayfork Valley, north of Highway 3.

Areas on evacuation warnings now include Big Bar, Big Flat, Burnt Ranch, Douglas City, Junction City, areas south from Barker Mountain to Haystack, the north side of Hyampom Road from Hayfork to 9-mile bridge, Denny, Hawkins Bar and Trinity Village. For information on evacuation sites and animal shelters, visit the Trinity County Sheriff's Office Facebook page here.

Damage assessment teams have confirmed 50 structures have been destroyed in the blaze to date. Currently, 2,319 personnel, 35 hand crews, 171 engines, 18 helicopters, 56 dozers, 49 water tenders, 3 skidgines, 21 masticators and three excavators are allocated to the fire.

For more information, check the incident website here and a map of the fire's footprint here.

The McFarland Fire,
122,653 acres and is 93 percent contained.
Sparked by lightning July 29 on McFarland Ridge south of State Route 36, the fire is burning in timberlands with fuels with historically low moisture levels in an area that hasn't burned in more than 50 years.

Firefighters continue to make progress on containing the fire, with "crews again worked primarily in Beegum Gorge and along Highway 36 mopping up and extinguishing any hot spots near containment lines and patrolled the rest of the fire," according to today's update

A damage assessment team has identified 24 residential structures and 22 other structures that have been destroyed and one residential structure damaged. Currently, 310 total personnel, including three hand crews; five engines; two helicopters; five dozers; eight water tenders and one masticator are allocated to the effort.

Evacuation in Shasta and Tehama Counties have been lifted and returning residents are asked to drive carefully as crews continue to work in the fire area. The Forest Closure Order for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest remains in place.
State Route 36  is now open from the junction with State Route 3 to 1 mile west of Dry Creek. Find the latest information here and view a map of the fire's footprint here.

River Complex 2021, 96,525 acres, 23 percent contained
Located in the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest, the complex consists of multiple lightning fires sparked in dry timber and brush on July 30. Containment of the fire grew significantly since Tuesday. The full complex stretches more than 96,000 acres and includes 22 fires, six of which have been fully contained.

"On Friday, clearer skies and breezy conditions increased fire activity across the Haypress and Summer fires," today's update states. "Crews on the Cronan fire continue to hold and secure the control lines. Crews increased containment on the Parker Spot fire that is burning southeast of the Haypress. Decreasing winds tonight should provide optimal conditions for the night shift and their firing operations."

Evacuation orders are in effect for Cecilville, Summerville, Petersburg and Coffee Creek Road Past Sugar Pine Trailhead in Trinity County. A warning remains in place for Sawyers Bar, Coffee Creek and Trinity Center. The estimated date of containment is Oct. 1. Find more information here.

The McCash Fire:
29,479 acres, 1 percent containment
Sparked by lightning on July 31, the McCash Fire is burning near Somes Bar in the Marble Mountain Wilderness in Siskiyou County in an area of timber growth with an understory of tall grass and brush continued to grow overnight, reach nearly 30,000 acres.

"Warmer, drier weather and clearer skies contributed to increased fire activity yesterday, but also allowed for all three helicopters to support firefighters’ suppression efforts on the ground throughout the day," an update reads, saying crews worked overnight to contain spot fires detected east of Ti Bar and on the southwest corner of the fire near road 13N51Y. "

Tempuratures are forecast to peak in the 90s throughout much of the fire area today and tomorrow with relative humidity falling to 8-15 percent. Winds are expected to be terrain-driven with upper ridgelines seeing light, northerly winds.

Evacuation orders and warnings are in place for areas of Siskiyou County. Visit the county's website for up-to-date information here.

A total of 352 people are currently allocated to the fire suppression effort.

The fire threatens significant cultural sites for the Karuk Tribe, as well as some structures on private lands. The current estimated containment date is Sept. 29. Find more information here.

Travel
State Route 299: Reopened during the day with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena at designated times every three hours starting at 7 a.m. and the last escort at 7 p.m. The road will be closed after the last escorted group of the day until 7 a.m. for everyone, except local residents with proof of address and emergency traffic.

State Route 36: Open from the junction with State Route 3 to 1 mile west of Dry Creek

For the most up to date road information, visit CalTrans' road information site here.

Air Quality
Wildfire smoke has triggered an air quality advisory — with periods of "very unhealthy to hazardous" conditions — in areas of Trinity County, including Trinity Center/Coffee Creek, Weaverville, Junction City, Douglas City and Hayfork and "unhealthy to very unhealthy with periods of hazardous" in Platina and Lewiston, according to the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.

In Humboldt County, conditions are expected to "moderate" in Eureka (from Scotia to Trinidad) with possible periods of "unhealthy for sensitive groups" in the afternoon as well as Weitchpec, Garberville and Redway, with conditions in Hoopa and Willow Creek "unhealthy for sensitive groups" to "unhealthy."  Orleans is forcast to be overall "unhealthy" with improvements expected overnight.

For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
• Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Moderate, possible periods of USG in afternoon with smoke aloft
• Weitchpec – Moderate to USG
•Hoopa Valley – Overall USG, Unhealthy midday, then improving
• Willow Creek – Overall USG, Unhealthy midday, then improving
• Garberville, Redway – Overall Moderate with periods of USG, improving overnight

"Good" — air quality is satisfactory and poses little or no risk
"Moderate" — Sensitive individuals should limit prolonged or heavy exertion "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" — Sensitive groups should reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
"Unhealthy" — Sensitive groups should avoid all prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion
"Very Unhealthy" — Everyone should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion
"Hazardous" — Everyone should avoid any outdoor activity
For the latest air quality information, click here and here.
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Friday, August 27, 2021

Public Health Confirms Six New COVID-19 Deaths as Hospitalizations Hit Record High

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2021 at 4:45 PM

PUBLIC HEALTH
  • public health

Six more Humboldt County residents have died of COVID-19, Public Health reported today, while announcing three hospitalizations.

“Each life lost to COVID-19 is a member of our community, someone’s family member, neighbor and friend,” said Public Health Director Sofia Pereira in a press release. “We grieve these losses for those who knew and loved them and for our entire community.”

The six deaths reported today included those of residents in their 30s, 50s, 60s and 80s, according to the press release.

Public Health confirmed 19 new cases, as well, today, after laboratories processed 439 samples with a test-positivity rate of 4.3 percent. However, Public Health estimates there are "around 100 additional cases" that have been reported to the state's database but not yet confirmed by local staff due to reductions in state resources and the realignment of local staff to contact investigations and vaccine efforts. Those outstanding cases will be vetted and added to Monday's report, according to a press release.

A state database, meanwhile, shows a record 37 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 locally with 11 under intensive care, as hospital capacity remains an acute concern among health officials, with patients increasingly being transferred out of the county for care or having non-emergency procedures cancelled.

Today's confirmed cases make 1,767 so far this month, to go with 76 hospitalizations and 18 deaths as the highly contagious Delta variant continues to circulate widely in the local community.

After recording a test-positivity rate of 10.1 percent in July — the highest for any month since the pandemic began — the rate in Humboldt County jumped to 15 percent in August, far outpacing state (5.8 percent) and national (11.6 percent) rates.

At a press conference yesterday, Health Officer Ian Hoffman said St. Joseph Hospital is in the midst of finalizing an agreement with the state to send a team of nurses to the hospital as an ongoing staffing shortage — coupled with the surge in COVID-19 cases — is limiting capacity to the point that he said six local residents are currently being hospitalized outside the area. Further, Hoffman said, the surge has limited capacity to the point that local hospitals have canceled non-emergency procedures, including heart and cancer surgeries, to preserve staffing.

Hoffman reiterated that vaccinations remain very effective in preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death, noting that's reflected in the county's current hospitalization census.

"The vast majority are the unvaccinated," he said.

According to the county's dashboard, 52.4 percent of local residents are now fully vaccinated, with another 6.85 percent having received one dose. While the average daily case rates among fully vaccinated residents have dropped sharply since the county reimplemented a mandatory masking order Aug. 7 — falling from 28 cases per 100,000 residents to 16 — rates among unvaccinated residents remain critically high at 83 per 100,000 residents.

document.jpg

Last week, the county also reported that due to the record-high case volume, it will be making some changes to its dashboard and data collection practices moving forward. Specifically, the county will drop the "cases cleared" section of its dashboard because it's become too time consuming to track all patients through their illnesses, while also discontinuing updates to its "transmission type" section because "data show the virus is widespread in our communities to the extent that it is frequently impossible" to determine who someone was infected.

Continue reading »

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Newsom Appoints Rio Dell Mayor to Seismic Safety Commission

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2021 at 3:31 PM

Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes with Gov. Gavin Newsom. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes with Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed Rio Dell Mayor Debra Garnes to the California Seismic Safety Commission, which works to reduce the risk earthquakes pose to lives, livelihood and infrastructure.

“I am truly honored to be appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom to the Alfred E. Alquist Seismic Safety Commission.” Garnes said in a press release. “I will do my utmost to carry out the duties of a commission created solely to advance earthquake safety.”

The governor's release states that Garnes has had experience working in several positions at the Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District from 1990 to 2002 and from 1988 to 1989, including as a hazardous materials technician and specialist, hazardous materials first responder, asbestos and lead decommissioning technician and senior utility clerk and associate, and as an operational and certified first response instructor from 2001 to 2002.

Her appointment must now be approved by the California Senate.

Read both press releases below.


Continue reading »

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Register to Vote by Monday to Get a Recall Ballot in the Mail

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2021 at 1:03 PM

The last day to register to vote in order to receive a mailed ballot for next month’s recall election is Monday, according to the Humboldt County Elections Office.

The Sept. 14 vote will determine whether Gov. Gavin Newsom, who took office in 2019, keeps his job. Voters are being asked two questions on the ballot. First, should Newsom remain as governor and two, if removed, who should replace him. (Read more about the recall process here.)

California residents who are already registered to vote should have received a ballot in the mail. Those not yet registered but who do so by Monday will be mailed a ballot.

Residents can register online at RegistertoVote.ca.gov or via a registration form available at post offices and the Office of Elections, with the later needing to be postmarked no later than Aug. 31 in order to be mailed a ballot.

“After the 31st, you will still be able to register at the Humboldt County Office of Elections and receive your ballot there,” a news release from the office states. “Starting Sept. 11, you will also be able to go to your Voter Assistance Center and register and vote a Conditional Ballot.”

Read the full elections office release below:

Monday, August 30, 2020, is the last day to register to vote in the September 14 Election and receive your ballot in the mail.

Register to vote online at RegistertoVote.ca.gov. Register to vote using the registration form that you can find at post offices or at the Office of Elections. If you plan to mail it, make sure that it is postmarked no later than August 31 so that you can be mailed a ballot.

After the 31st, you will still be able to register at the Humboldt County Office of Elections and receive your ballot there.

Starting September 11, you will also be able to go to your Voter Assistance Center and register and vote a Conditional Ballot.

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