Thursday, August 5, 2021

Fires East of Humboldt Grow Overnight, Bringing Continued Travel, Air Quality Impacts

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2021 at 12:07 PM

click to enlarge The Monument Fire jumped State Route 299 in several places near Del Loma. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • The Monument Fire jumped State Route 299 in several places near Del Loma.
A handful of fires east of Humboldt continued to grow overnight with minimal containment, bringing air quality and travel impacts as far west as the coast. A Red Flag warning in much of the region and overall hot, dry conditions are expected to complicate fire suppression efforts today and through the weekend.

Here's a brief look at each and what you need to know.

The Fires
click to enlarge screen_shot_2021-08-05_at_11.39.58_am.png

The Monument Fire, 24,719 acres, 0 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 July 30 and currently threatens the towns of Del Loma, Big Flat and Burnt Ranch. "The fire was active through the night and will continue to burn actively again today," an update this morning reads, noting that the blaze is burning in the footprint of the 2008 Cedar Fire. Crews are working to extinguish four spot fires along the north side of the Trinity yRiver, while constructing containment lines. A significant rockslide blocking access along State Route 299 is hampering efforts. Evacuation orders are in effect for Del Loma, Big Bar and Cedar Flat, with warnings in place for Burnt Ranch and Big Flat. A community meeting and fire briefing is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Junction City Elementary School. Get more information here and a map of the fire's footprint here.

The McFarland Fire, 23,409 acres, 7 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. Last night, the "fire burned actively on both the western and eastern flanks with moderate to rapid rates of speed," a morning update states. "Fire is burning with an extremely high resistance to control and even heavy coverage of aerial retardant is only moderately effective in stopping or slowing fire spread." Red Flag conditions are expected throughout today. "The fire has been growing rapidly and and the forecasted Red Flag conditions ... and critical conditions fro the remainder of the week could push the fire into heavily populated areas," the update states. An evacuation order has been issued for the community of wildwood, with warnings in place for the Post Mountain/Trinity Pines Community and parts of western Shasta County. Find the latest information here.

River Complex 2021, 11,680 acres

Located in the Salmon/Scott River Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest, the complex consists of multiple lightning fires spared in dry timber and brush July 30. The full complex stretches 11,680 acres and includes 22 fires, six of which have been fully contained. A Red Flag warning was issued in the area yesterday, and hot, dry, windy conditions are expected. An evacuation order has been issued for Cecilville, with warnings in place for Cecilville, Godfried, Blue Ridge, Black Bear, Uncle Sam Mine, Eddy Gulch Road, Forks of Salmon and Sawyers Bar. There is currently no estimated date of containment. Find more information here.

The McCash Fire: 951 acres, 1 percent containment

Sparked by lightning July 31, the McCash fire is burning near Somes Bar in Siskiyou County  in an area of timber growth with an understory of tall grass and brush. It threatens significant cultural sites for the Karuk Tribe, as well as some structures on private lands. Crews are working to suppress and contain the fire, but its location in a remote area on steep, rugged terrain poses challenges. The current estimated containment date is Sept. 29. Find more information here.


State Route 299: Closed from Burnt Ranch to 3 miles east of Big Bar due to wildfire. Motorists are advised to use an alternate route.

State Route 36: Closed from the junction of State Route 3 to 4.8 miles west of Platina at White Rock Road due to wildfire. Motorists are advised to use an alternate route.

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 "unhealthy" and "very unhealthy" conditions — in areas of Trinity County, including Weaverville, Trinity Center, Lewiston, Burnt Ranch, Junction City, Hayfork, Douglas City and Platina, according to the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.

In Humboldt County, air quality is generally for forecast to be "good," but with periods of "moderate" smoke and "unhealthy for sensitive groups." For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
Humboldt County:
 Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good conditions
 Willow Creek – Good to Moderate with periods of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG)
 Hoopa – Good to Moderate with periods of USG
 Orleans – Good to Moderate with periods of USG
 Weitchpec – Good to Moderate with periods of USG
 Garberville – Good air quality conditions
 Redway – Good air quality 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
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Thadeus Greenson

Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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