Friday, August 13, 2021

Fire Updates: Evacuation Warnings Lifted for Some Areas Near McFarland Fire

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2021 at 11:29 AM

A handful of fires burning east of Humboldt continue to grow 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. Overall hot, dry conditions and wind gusts are expected to continue to complicate fire suppression efforts, while forecast thunderstorms bring the threat of additional blazes. While air quality has improved somewhat on the coast, it has worsened to the east, with periods of very unhealthy conditions expected in Hoopa, Willow Creek, Orleans and Weitchpec.

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

The Fires

The Monument Fire, 74,759 acre
s, 5 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 74,759 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. "In the late afternoons, the fire is poised to get very active when the SR299 corridor fills with air from up-canyon winds, this will creating up-hill runs if fire gets in to alignment," an update reads. "Firefighters are prepared for this and will be monitoring around structures and will provided point protection. CalFire and Federal crews supported suppression efforts by constructing fire line, and deploying hose lines around structures, preparing homes on the east side of Junction City."  Yesterday, a local Red Flag Warning was issued for gusty winds and isolated dry thunderstorms in the fire area and will continue through tonight. For more information, read about incident commanders' briefing on Wednesday with Congressmember Jared Huffman here, check the incident website here and a map of the fire's footprint here.

The McFarland Fire, 40,684 acres, 57 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. "This edge of the fire is now in the south fork of Beegum Creek. Today the focus is on directing this portion of the fire towards the August Complex and Elk burns scars and preventing it from moving north towards Platina. Firefighters are using previously used dozer lines in lieu of building new contingency lines in these areas," an update reads. State Route 36 is open without restrictions. Evacuation warnings have been lifted for the community of Wildwood, Post Mountain/Trinity Pines community, Shields Road, White Rock Road and Harrison Gulch Road. Evacuation warnings remain in effect for both sides of State Route 36 from Sunday Gulch Road to the Shasta/Tehama County line and all roads to the south of State Route 36 from Sunday Gulch Road to the Shasta/Tehama County line including Beegum Gorge Road, Platinum Lane, Secluded Glen Lane, Shady Nook Drive and Beegum Road. The estimated containment date is Aug. 21. Find the latest information here.

River Complex 2021, 36,954 acres, 10 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 32,500 acres, includes 22 fires, six of which have been fully contained. Another fire was added to the complex on Aug. 7. Yesterday's update stated that the wind increases could intensify fire behavior. Meteorologists are monitoring local weather conditions and communicating with firefighters. A local Red Flag Warning remains in effect through tonight, with possible thunderstorms and gusty outflow winds of up to 40 mph. 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:
2,116 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. It threatens significant cultural sites for the Karuk Tribe, as well as some structures on private lands. Yesterday's update stated that smoke from nearby fires is bringing poor visibility for firefighters fighting the McCash fire and keeping temperatures from getting as hot as would be otherwise expected. "A Temporary Flight Restriction is in place for the fire area," an update reads. The current estimated containment date is Sept. 29. Find more information here


State Route 299:  Closed from 1.7 miles east of Hawkins Bar to Sky Ranch Road in Junction City. There is currently no estimated time for when the roadway will be reopened and motorists are advised to use an alternate route.

State Route 36: Open without restriction, according to yesterday's update. 

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, Junction City, Douglas City and Platina with Burnt Ranch, Trinity Center and Hayfork seeing "very unhealthy to Hazardous" air quality according to the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.

In Humboldt County, Willow Creek, Hoopa, Orleans and are expected to be in the "unhealthy" to "very unhealthy" zone, with Weitchpec in the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" to "unhealthy" conditions.

For other areas in Humboldt County, air quality is generally 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 with periods of Very Unhealthy in afternoon, some overnight clearing possible
 Hoopa – Unhealthy with periods of Very Unhealthy in afternoon, some overnight clearing possible
 Orleans – Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy conditions
 Weitchpec – USG with periods of Unhealthy conditions
 Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good conditions
 Klamath – Good with Moderate periods
 Garberville, Redway – 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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Iridian Casarez

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

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