Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Fire Updates: SR 36, 299 Closed Due to Fires, Red Flag Warning in Effect this Afternoon

Posted By on Tue, Aug 17, 2021 at 12:01 PM

A handful of fires burning east of Humboldt spread aggressively over the weekend, pushed by winds and dry fuel loads, and continue to bring 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 and State Route 36 closed from the junction at State Route 3 to Bowman Road, located about 17 miles west of Red Bluff. A Red Flag Warning is in effect from this afternoon until Wednesday for Trinity County and the eastern portions of Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino and Lake counties, according to the National Weather Service, due to gusty winds and low humidity.
Air quality has improved in areas closest to the fire for the time being, though hot, dry conditions and wind gusts are expected to continue to complicate fire suppression efforts.

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

The Fires

The Monument Fire, 119,280 acre
s, 10 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 more than 20,000 acres again over night to 119,280 acres with 10 percent containment. Evacuation orders remain in effect for Junction City, Red Hill, Canyon Creek, Coopers Bar, Big Bar, Del Loma, Big Flat, Helena, Cedar Flat and Burnt Ranch. Evacuation warning have been issued for the communities of Weaverville, Douglas City and Hayfork.
For information on evacuation sites and animal shelters visit the Trinity County Sheriff's Office Facebook page here.

"The fire is holding on the west side of the North Fork of the Trinity River," this morning's update states. "On the southeastern edge of the fire, resources were constructing indirect contingency lines and structure protection before crews were pulled to assist with firefighting activities near Junction City. Dozer work continued on the south end of the fire in an effort to protect the community of Hayfork. The Hayfork Bally Lookout remains intact."

Gusty winds are present along the ridge tops and exposed terrain, with a Red Flag Warning going into effect at 1 p.m.. For more information, read about incident commanders' briefing last week with Congressmember Jared Huffman here, check the incident website here and a map of the fire's footprint here.

The McFarland Fire, 97,407 acres, 53 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 saw significant growth, almost doubling in size yesterday, starting at dawn and continuing well into the night, according to this morning's update.  Crews lost containment ground, which dropped to 53 percent from 68 percent. An Evacuation Warning is in effect for all homes 1 mile on the north and south side of State Route 36 from Platina west to Wildwood, Bowman Road east on State Route 36 to Canon Road.

"Crews will work to keep fire out of Beegum Creek and work the eastern front of the fire west of vestal roads." the update states. "Crews will also construct direct line down from Beegum Creek and do structure assessments in the Beegum and Platina areas. Crews will also focus on keeping fire out of the State Route 36 corridor and working in the southern area of the fire using Pettyjohn Road as a fire line. Crews on the west side of the fire continue to secure the line, mop-up, and patrol the burned area for hot spots."

Today's weather presents another critical fire day, with a Red Flag Warning going into effect this afternoon. Find the latest information here.

River Complex 2021, 44,117 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 44,000 acres, includes 22 fires, six of which have been fully contained. Another fire was added to the complex on Aug. 7.  "Firefighters on the River Complex are anticipating an increase in fire activity across the River Complex due to a Red Flag Warning, that is in effect from 2:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. Today, firefighters will focus on constructing and improving fire lines, and preparing for structure defense in communities threatened by the fires.," a morning update states. Evacuation orders are in effect for Cecilville, Summerville, Petersburg and Coffee Creek Road past Sugar Pine Trailhead in Trinity County. A warning remains in place for Sawyers Bar. The estimated date of containment is Oct. 1. Find more information here.

The McCash Fire:
2,599 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. More information is expected this afternoon. 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 2.1 miles east of 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 with areas of one-way controlled traffic.
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, Junction City and Douglas City, according to the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.

In Humboldt County, Willow Creek, Hoopa, Orleans and Weitchpec are expected to be in the "good" zone, for the most part, but with smoke increasing tomorrow and the possibilty of reaching "unhealthy" conditions by morning in some areas. Garberville and Redway are forcast to be "moderate" to "unhealthy for sensitive groups."

For other areas in Humboldt County, air quality is generally forecast to be "good." For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
Humboldt County:
 • Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good conditions, smoke may be aloft, Moderate impacts by Wed
• Orleans – Good today, smoke increasing overnight
• Weitchpec – Good today, smoke increasing overnight
• Hoopa – Mostly Good today, smoke increasing overnight, Unhealthy possible by the morning
• Willow Creek – Good today, Unhealthy possible by the morning
• Garberville, Redway – Moderate to USG today, smoke impacts later today, possible Unhealthy tomorrow.
Del Norte County:
• Crescent City – Good conditions, some smoke impacts possible by tomorrow
• Gasquet – Good conditions, some smoke impacts possible by tomorrow
• Klamath – Good conditions, smoke increasing overnight

"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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Kimberly Wear

Kimberly Wear is the assistant editor of the North Coast Journal.

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