Thursday, August 19, 2021

Fire Updates: McCash Fire Grows, Evacuation Orders and Warnings Issued

Posted By on Thu, Aug 19, 2021 at 12:13 PM

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. 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,
132,013 acres, 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 on July 30 and grew to 132,013 acres with 10 percent containment. According to last night's evening update, the fire continued to slowly grow in all directions but had not made any aggressive advances as of 6 p.m. Smoke from the River Complex covered the fire, bringing cooler temperatures on the southern portion of the fire around Hayfork. Today, crews will "provide structure defense for the communities of Burnt Ranch, Friedrich Road, Cedar Flat and Underwood Mountain," according to the incident information. Today, the general wind flow will remain from the northeast but wind speeds are forecast to be lighter than previous days. Smoke from the River Complex and McCash Fire will likely continue to linger over the Monument Fire, keeping interior portions of the fire covered in smoke and stable.

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, 110,132 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 was relatively quiet overnight, with lessening winds allowing for better humidity recovery. Firefighters patrolled along Highway 36 and in the Beegum Creek area to ensure that the fire stayed within constructed lines," an update states. "Winds are expected to still push primarily to the south/southwest but are not predicted to be as strong as the last few days." 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 from 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. 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, 53,071 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 53,000 acres, includes 22 fires, six of which have been fully contained, and grew by about 5,000 acres yesterday. "With an increase in fire activity expected today, firefighters will focus on structure defense plans, and constructing and improving fire lines throughout the River Complex fire area," a morning update reads. "Breezy and dry weather continues Thursday, resulting in another elevated fire weather day. Clear skies will allow more sunshine to reach the surface, which will result in better heating and smoke ventilation across the River Complex." 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: 7,659 acres, 0 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 3,000 acres as of yesterday due to strong winds across the fire area and the fire is expected to remain highly active until winds die down to 1-3 mph. An evacuation order has been issued for the Dillon Creek Campground following along State Route 96 to Ti Bar Road, Marble Mountain Ranch to include Camp Three Campground due to wildfire by Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office. An evacuation warning has been issued for the Butler Flat, Nordheimer Campground, and Portuguese Creek areas along Salmon River Road.
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 "unhealthy to very unhealthy" conditions — in areas of Trinity County, including Weaverville, Junction City, Trinity Center/Coffee Creek, Hayfork, Platina and Burnt Ranch, 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.

For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
Humboldt County:
 Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good to Moderate, possible USG at higher elevations (Kneeland)
 Orleans – Good to Moderate conditions
 Weitchpec – Good with periods of Moderate overnight
 Hoopa – Good to Moderate conditions
 Willow Creek – Good to Moderate once the smoke clears
 Burnt Ranch – Moderate with periods of USG to Unhealthy conditions
 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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About The Author

Iridian Casarez

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

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