Monday, August 9, 2021

Fire Updates: Monument Fire Continues to Spread, Evacuation Order in Effect for Burnt Ranch

Posted By on Mon, Aug 9, 2021 at 11:21 AM

click to enlarge Forest service vehicles head toward the town of Wildwood on State Route 36. - MARK MCKENNA
  • Mark McKenna
  • Forest service vehicles head toward the town of Wildwood on State Route 36.
 A handful of fires east of Humboldt continued to grow this weekend 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.

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

The Fires

The Monument Fire, 53,019 acres, 3 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 42,567 acres to  53,019 over the weekend as it continues to threaten the towns of Del Loma, Big Flat and Burnt Ranch. "Primary growth was to the east with active backing and short range spotting," a morning update reads. Moderate recoveries are expected tonight as humidity levels will give firefighters a window for firing operations. A significant rockslide blocking access along State Route 299 continues to hamper efforts. Trinity County Sheriff Tim Saxon has issued an evacuation order for the community of Burnt Ranch. “[A]fter consulting with USFS and looking at the anticipated weather patterns, we will be implementing an Evacuation Order for the community of Burnt Ranch this morning before noon. USFS is fairly certain the fire will reach the area in the near future," he told the Redheaded Blackbelt. Evacuation orders are in effect for Del Loma, Big Bar, Big Flat, Cedar Flat and Burnt Ranch, 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, 31,754 acres, 26 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. "The fire growth was predominantly on the western and eastern sides of the fire and grew rapidly with a high resistance to control," an update reads. 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, 25,212 acres, 5 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 July 30. The full complex, which stretches more than 25,000 acres and grew by about 9 percent since yesterday, includes 22 fires, six of which have been fully contained. Another fire was added to the complex on Aug. 7. "Fire expected to continue backing with low to moderate fire behavior into the communities of Cecilville and Summerville," an update reads. 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: 1,334 acres, 1 percent containment

Sparked by lightning on 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. "Implement full suppression tactics of confine and contain to minimize fire spread. Construct direct/indirect lines where safe to do so," an 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.

The Monument, McFarland Fires and River Complex are very active and will continue to produce heavy smoke impacts. Regions west of the fires will begin to see air quality impacts today.

Air quality is forecast to be "good to moderate" conditions along the coast from Eureka to Trinidad today. Garberville, Redway, Kneeland and Willow Creek will see "good to moderate with periods of unhealthy for sensitive groups." Other inland areas, including Hoopa, Orleans and Weitchpec are expected to be "moderate" with periods of "unhealthy for sensitive groups" and possibly "unhealthy conditions." For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
Humboldt County:

 Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good with periods of Moderate conditions
 Kneeland – Good to Moderate with periods of USG to Unhealthy possible
 Willow Creek – Good to Moderate with periods of USG to Unhealthy possible
 Hoopa –Moderate with periods of USG to Unhealthy possible
 Orleans – Moderate with periods of USG to Unhealthy possible
 Weitchpec – Moderate with periods of USG to Unhealthy possible
 Garberville – Good to Moderate with periods of USG conditions
 Redway – Good to Moderate with periods of USG 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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Iridian Casarez

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

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