Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Fire Updates: Smoke Intensifies, River Complex Estimated Containment Date Oct. 1

Posted By and on Wed, Aug 11, 2021 at 2:25 PM

A handful of fires burning east of Humboldt continued to grow overnight with minimal containment, bringing air quality and travel impacts as far west as the coast, with State Route 299 still closed in Trinity County and no timetable for reopening. Parts of State Route 36 have reopened to controlled traffic. 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,
62,490 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 grew to 62,490 acres as of this morning, with evacuation orders in effect for Junction City, Red Hill, Canyon Creek, Coopers Bar, Big Bar, Del Loma, Big Flat, Helena, Cedar Flat, and Burnt Ranch. For information on evacuation sites and animal shelters visit the Trinity County Sheriff's Office Facebook page here. "Today, crews will focus their efforts on Junction City, Burnt Ranch and surrounding communities by preparing structures, deploying hose lines and monitoring up in and around the fire to preserve structures and those values of risk," an update reads. Get more information here and a map of the fire's footprint here.

The McFarland Fire, 35,709 acres, 37 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 flared up yesterday afternoon on the southeastern perimeter. The fire spotted over dozer lines near NorthStar Mountain above the White Rock Guard Station. (The structure has been wrapped with a protective fire retardant material.) Air tankers dropped retardant adjacent to the 28N35 road to slow the flame front and to allow firefighters an opportunity to construct new control lines. This is a priority for today," an update reads.  
State Route 36 is open from Wildwood Road to Highway 3 with a pilot car escort.
Evacuation warnings are in place for the community of Wildwood, the Post Mountain/Trinity Pines community, the Platina community and parts of western Shasta County. The estimated containment date is Aug. 21. Find the latest information here.

River Complex 2021, 31,033 acres, 7 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. The full complex, which stretches more than 31,000 acres, includes 22 fires, six of which have been fully contained. Another fire was added to the complex on Aug. 7. "Smoke continues to impact the region, particularly in the steeper drainages and complex terrain. Until the inversion and smoke lifts, low to moderate fire behavior is observed. As conditions warm and as the predicted dry thunderstorms move through, fire behavior is expected to increase," an update reads. Evacuation orders are in effect for Cecilville, Summerville and Petersburg, with warnings in place for Sawyers Bar, Coffee Creek past Sugar Pine Campground in Trinity County. The estimated date of containment is Oct. 1. Find more information here.

The McCash Fire:
1,769 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. "Continued indirect line construction and prep will continue on the southern portion of the fire. Burn out operations will be conducted as needed along the southern portion of the fire between the Ukonom and Haypress Fire footprints," an update reads. The current estimated containment date is Sept. 29. Find more information here.


State Route 299:  Closed from approximately 4 miles west of Burnt Ranch to approximately 7 miles west of Weaverville, near Junction City. There is currently no estimated time for when the roadway will be reopened.

State Route 36: Now under one-way traffic control from approximately 3 miles east of State Route 3 to approximately 6 miles west of Wildwood due to wildfire.

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

In Humboldt County, Willow Creek, Hoopa, Orleans and Weitchpec are also expected to be in the "unhealthy" to "very unhealthy" zone.

For other areas in Humboldt County, air quality is generally for forecast to be "good," to "moderate" smoke with periods of "unhealthy for sensitive groups" possible in Kneeland. For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
Humboldt County:
 Willow Creek – Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy, some overnight clearing possible  Hoopa –Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy, some overnight clearing possible
 Orleans – Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy, some overnight clearing possible
 Weitchpec – Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy

 Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good with periods of Moderate conditions
 Kneeland – Good to Moderate with periods of USG to Unhealthy possible
 Klamath – Moderate with periods of USG
 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

For the latest air quality information, click here and here.

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About The Authors

Iridian Casarez

Iridian Casarez was a staff writer at the North Coast Journal from 2019-2023.

Thadeus Greenson

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

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