Saturday, August 7, 2021

Fire Updates: Monument Fire Continues to Spread

Posted By on Sat, Aug 7, 2021 at 11:14 AM

click to enlarge A helicopter drops water on the edge of the McFarland Fire. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • A helicopter drops water on the edge of the McFarland Fire.
A handful of fires east of Humboldt continued to grow yesterday with minimal containment, bringing air quality and travel impacts as far west as the coast, with state routes 299 and 36 still closed with no timetable for reopening. Overall hot, dry conditions are expected to complicate fire suppression efforts, though westerly winds are currently forecast to push fire spread and smoke impacts to the east.

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

The Fires

The Monument Fire, 36,015 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 spread from 36,015 acres to 42,567 yesterday as it continues to threaten the towns of Del Loma, Big Flat and Burnt Ranch. Low overnight humidity levels "supported steady fire spread in all fuel types," a morning updates reads. "Fire growth was accentuated by steep, complex terrain. Large spots on the north side of the Trinity River continued to grow together, providing a more well defined northern perimeter." A significant rockslide blocking access along State Route 299 continues to hamper efforts. Evacuation orders are in effect for Del Loma, Big Bar, Big Flat and Cedar Flat, with warnings in place for Helena, Junction City, Coopers Bar, Red Hill and Canyon Creek. Get more information here and a map of the fire's footprint here.

The McFarland Fire, 28,944 acres, 21 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. Crews made significant progress on containment efforts yesterday. Today, "resources are working to hold Highway 36 as the fire makes its way farther to the west," a morning updates states. "Dozers and heavy equipment will continue to reopen dozer lines from last year's August Complex as well as looking for safe opportunities to go direct on the east and southeast portions of the fire." Continued westerly winds are expected to push the fire to the southeast today. 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, 23,085 acres, 3 percent contained

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, which stretches more than 23,000 acres and grew by about 7,000 acres yesterday, includes 22 fires, six of which have been fully contained. "Fire continues to spread to the southeast with a moderate rate of spread," a morning update reads. "Abundant spotting is causing control issues and contributing significantly to the fire's spread and resistance to control." An evacuation order remains in effect for Cecilville, with warnings in place for 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: 1,270 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 implement full suppression tactics of confine and contain to minimize fire spread," a morning update reads. The current estimated containment date is Sept. 29. Find more information here.

Travel

State Route 299: Closed from Burnt Ranch to 9 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 "hazardous" 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.

Air quality is forecast to be "good" along coastal areas from Eureka to Trinidad today, as well as in Garberville and Redway. Other inland areas, including Hoopa and Orleans, are expected to be "good" with periods of "moderate" possible. Willow Creek may see periods that are "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 smoke possible in evenings
 Hoopa – Good to Moderate with smoke possible in evenings
 Orleans – Good to Moderate
 Weitchpec – Good to Moderate
 Garberville – 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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About The Author

Thadeus Greenson

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

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