Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Fire Updates: Windy, Dry Conditions Prompt Fire Growth

Posted By on Wed, Aug 18, 2021 at 11:54 AM

click to enlarge The McCash Fire was "very active" yesterday, growing by nearly 50 percent. - US FOREST SERVICE
  • US Forest Service
  • The McCash Fire was "very active" yesterday, growing by nearly 50 percent.
A handful of fires burning east of Humboldt spread aggressively yesterday, 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 today 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, 128,613 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 nearly 10,000 acres yesterday to 128,613 acres with 10 percent containment. The fire's growth continued to the south, east and north, threatening the communities of Junction City and Hayfork. "Crews continue to strengthen and patrol control lines in the area of Burnt Ranch and Ironside Mountain on the west side of the fire," an update states. "A tactical firing operation was conducted south of Burnt Ranch along the 60 Road in the Chaparal Mountain area to prevent the fire from threatening Burnt Ranch and moving to the west." A Red Flag Warning is in effect today due to gusty winds and dry conditions.

Evacuation orders are in effect for Sky Ranch Road, Junction City, Reed Hill, Canyon Creek, Coopers Bar, Big Bar, Del Loma, Big Flat, Helena, Cedar Flat, Burnt Ranch, Barker Mountain and other areas northwest of Hayfork Summit and Sunshine Meadows, Harris Road, Farmer Ranch Road and for residence from Ewing Road up through Brady Road in Hayfork. Evacuation warnings are in effect for Weaverville, Douglas City, areas south from Barker Mountain to Haystack proper and the north side of Hyampom Road from Hayfork property nine-mile bridge. For information on evacuation sites and animal shelters visit the Trinity County Sheriff's Office Facebook page here.

For more information, check the incident website here and a map of the fire's footprint here.

The McFarland Fire, 107,102 acres, 51 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 grew by almost 10,000 acres yesterday as containment decreased from 53 percent to 51 percent. "Yesterday, gusty and dry west to northwest winds surfaced over the fire and increased fire activity," an update states. "Extreme fire behavior pushed the fire to the east into Beegum Peak and over Tedoc Mountain. ... The northwest section of the fire remained relatively calm after mop-up efforts." An evacuation order is in effect 1 mile north of State Route 36, from Platina to Vestal Road, with warnings in effect for all homes on the south side and all homes to 1 mile north of State Route 36 form the Shasta-Trinity county line to Platina, and north of Bowman Road and State Route 36 west of Luce Griswold to the Tehama-Trinity county line. "Today's weather conditions bring another critical fire day," the update states, adding that winds are expected all day with gusts of up to 30 p.m. in the evening. State Route 36 remains closed from State Route 3 to Bowman Road. Find the latest information here and view a map of the fire's footprint here.

River Complex 2021, 48,214 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 48,214acres, includes 22 fires, six of which have been fully contained, and grew by about 4,000 acres yesterday. "The fire will remain active today with continued breezy conditions, which will provide clear air and good ventilation conductive to burning conditions," a morning update states. Today, firefighters will focus on constructing and improving fire lines, and preparing for structure defense in communities threatened by the fires. 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:
3,936 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. The fire grew by more than 1,300 acres yesterday, fueled by a change in the weather. "The fire was very active yesterday due to warmer weather and gusting winds out of the north and north east," a morning update states. A Red Flag Warning will be in effect through 8 p.m. today. The fire threatens significant cultural sites for the Karuk Tribe, as well as some structures on private lands. The current estimated containment date is Sept. 29. Find more information here.

Travel

State Route 299: Closed from 1.7 miles east of Hawkins Bar to 2.7 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: Closed from the junction with State Route 3 to 16.8 miles west of Red Bluff at Bowman Road. 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 "hazardous" conditions — in areas of Trinity County, including Weaverville, Junction City, Hayfork and Douglas City, according to the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.

In Humboldt County, conditions are expected to be mostly "good" on the coast, with smoke increasing overnight in the areas of Orleans and Weitchpec. Conditions could grow "unhealthy" overnight in Hoopa, Willow Creek, Garberville and Redway.

For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
Humboldt County:
• Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good conditions, any smoke should remain aloft
• Orleans – Good to Moderate, smoke increasing overnight
• Weitchpec – Good to Moderate, smoke increasing overnight
• Hoopa – Mostly Good to Moderate, possible smoke in evening, Unhealthy possible overnight.
• Willow Creek – Mostly Good to Moderate, possible smoke in evening, Unhealthy possible overnight
• Garberville, Redway – Mostly Moderate to USG with worsened periods of smoke possible

"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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Thadeus Greenson

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

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