Monday, August 30, 2021

Fire Updates: Knob Fire Impacting Air Quality; Windy Conditions Forecast in Some Fire Areas

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2021 at 2:17 PM

click to enlarge The glow of the Monument Fire through the trees at night. - PHOTO BY CHRIS AYER, CORONA FIRE DEPARTMENT
  • Photo by Chris Ayer, Corona Fire Department
  • The glow of the Monument Fire through the trees at night.
Firefighters battling the Knob Fire near Willow Creek and a series of fires burning to Humboldt County's east are continuing to face hot and dry conditions with strong winds in some areas.

State Route 299 has reopened during the day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena and State Route 36 is now open from the junction with State Route 3 to 1 mile west of Dry Creek

Air quality continues to be impacted by smoke, with an advisory in place for "unhealthy to hazardous" conditions in communities near the fire and Humboldt County seeing impacts ranging from "good" in along the coast to "unhealthy" in Willow Creek, mainly due to the Knob Fire.

With fires raging across the region and resources already stretched very thin, the U.S. Forest Service has temporarily closed nine National Forests, including Klamath, Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers.

Here's a brief look at each of the first burning near Humboldt and what you need to know.

The Fires

The Knob Fire, 250 acres, 0 percent contained

The Knob Fire burning near Willow Creek started Aug. 29 around 3 p.m. on Brush Mountain and resources from the Monument and McCash fires were sent to aid with firefighting efforts.

Evacuation orders are now in effect for areas west of State Route 299 to the end of China Creek, south of Butterfly Creek Road to Christian School Road, excluding residents on Christian School Road, as well as areas west of Forest Route 6N33 to the end of Fourmile Creek, south of Christian School Road to Friday Ridge Road.

Evacuation warnings are in effect for areas east of State Route 299 to the Trinity River, south of Panther Creek Road to Butterfly Creek Road and areas east of State Route 299 to the Trinity River, south of Butterfly Creek to Christian School Road, including residents on Christian School Road as well as areas east of Forest Route 6N33 to the Trinity River, south of Gypo Lane to Friday Ridge Road

“Residents under an evacuation warning should prepare for potential evacuations, including personal supplies and overnight accommodations,” the update states. “Be ready to go at a moment's notice.”

 A map of evacuation zones is available at tinyurl.com/humcoevacmap.

Road closures are in effect at China Creek Road at Hodgson Road, Burwood Drive at State Route 299 and Gypo Lane at State Route 299.

“The above routes are closed to entering traffic, but may be used by residents to leave the area in compliance with the evacuation order,” the HCSO update states.

An Evacuation Center is open at the Willow Creek Bible Church, located at 39 Brannan Mountain Road, Willow Creek, for evacuees. Resources available at site include overnight sheltering, restrooms, water and Red Cross services.

Domestic and large animal sheltering is available at the Hoopa Rodeo Grounds, located on Pine Creek Road in Hoopa.

The Monument Fire, 164,746 acres, 29 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.

State Route 299 has reopened but only during the day and with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena at designated times every three hours starting at 7 a.m. Pilot cars will leave east and west points at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. The road will be closed after the last escorted group of the day until 7 a.m. for everyone, except local residents with proof of address and emergency traffic.

"With continued hot weather and clearer air, portions of the fire did become extremely active Sunday afternoon and into the night," today's update states. "Similar conditions are expected again today along with wind gusts of up to 25 miles an hour after 4 p.m. across some parts of the fire."

Evacuation orders are in effect for Barker Mountain, the NW portion of Hayfork Summit and North Hayfork Valley, north of Highway 3 including the north side of Hyampom Road from Hayfork to 9-mile bridge.

Evacuation warnings are in effect for Big Bar, Big Flat, Burnt Ranch, Douglas City, Junction City, areas south from Barker Mountain to Haystack, Denny, Hawkins Bar and Trinity Village. Additional areas south of State Road 3 and Hyampom Road from Hayfork Summit through the Town of Hayfork to 9-Mile Bridge are also in a warning status.

Evacuation centers have been set up at Shasta College, 11555 Old Oregon Trail, Building 1900, Redding CA; Willow Creek Bible Church, 39 Brannan Mountain Road, Willow Creek, CA; and Fireman’s Hall Pavilion, 9 Park Street in Fortuna.

For information on evacuation orders and warnings, evacutation 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,
122,653 acres and is 94 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.

Firefighters were able to hold the fire to 122,653 acres during the weekend and "fire behavior is expected to be limited on the incident today," the update states.

"The weather is expected to be hot, dry and windy today and could cause interior fuels within the containment line to burn and cause smoke from within the fire area to be seen," the update states. "Firefighters will remain on patrol of the fire perimeter, perform mop up and remove excess equipment and trash from the fire area. The extended hot and dry weather will continue through today with minimum relative humidity around 10-12 percent and temperature to be in the mid 90s. There will be elevated fire weather concerns with northwest winds expected to increase with gusts of 25-30 mph on ridges and in aligned drainages."

Evacuation in Shasta and Tehama counties were lifted over the weekend. The Forest Closure Order for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest remains in place.
State Route 36 is now open from the junction with State Route 3 to 1 mile west of Dry Creek.

Find the latest information here and view a map of the fire's footprint here.

River Complex 2021, 98,832 acres, 23 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. Containment of the fire grew significantly since Tuesday. The full complex stretches nearly 99,000 acres and originally included 31 fires, three of which remain: the Cronan, Summer, and Haypress fires.

"Activity on the Summer fire was along the western border, as the fire progressed from Saint Clair Creek to French Creek. Crews continued to secure the north perimeter of the Haypress and hold the east fork of the Salmon River as the main fire progresses down from Fish Lake to their back burn operations," today's update states. "Fire activity has increased along the east flank of the Haypress, specifically north of the Three Sisters Gulch area along Upper Coffee Creek Road. Crews on the Cronan fire continue to hold and secure the control lines."

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, Coffee Creek and Trinity Center. The estimated date of containment is Oct. 1. Find more information here.

The McCash Fire:
36,398 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 continued to grow overnight, reach nearly 30,000 acres.

"Night shift continued to work on holding and securing the line on the western edge of the fire. They patrolled the highway 96 corridor throughout the night to assess fire movement and smoke impacts to the roads," today's update states. "Firefighters have completed structure assessments and preparation from Dillon Campground to the Clear Creek area. Today crews will continue to secure the perimeter by mopping up hot spots along the west side."

A community meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. today at Gail Zink Park in Happy Camp.

Tempuratures are forecast to drop into the 80s throughout much of the fire area today and tomorrow with relative humidity at 15-20percent. Winds are expected to be 5 to 10 mph but with localized impacts from the terrain.

Evacuation orders and warnings are in place for areas of Siskiyou County. Visit the county's website for up-to-date information here.

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: Reopened during the day with pilot cars leading traffic in both directions from Burnt Ranch to Helena at designated times every three hours starting at 7 a.m. and the last escort at 7 p.m. The road will be closed after the last escorted group of the day until 7 a.m. for everyone, except local residents with proof of address and emergency traffic.

State Route 36: Open except for in Lassen County where it's closed from Mooney Road in Westwood to the junction of State Route 44.

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  "very unhealthy to hazardous" conditions — in areas of Trinity County, including Trinity Center/Coffee Creek and Hayfork in the "very unhealthy to hazardous" zone while Weaverville, Junction City, Douglas City, Platina and Lewiston are "unhealthy to very unhealthy" with periods of "hazardous," according to the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District.

In Humboldt County, conditions are expected to "good" in Eureka (from Scotia to Trinidad) "moderate to unhealthy" in Hoopa and "unhealthy" in Willow Creek. Orleans is forcast to be overall "unhealthy for sensitive groups to unhealthy."

For the latest air quality information, click here.

Here's the district's full rundown:
Eureka (including Scotia to Trinidad) – Good conditions
Orleans – USG to Unhealthy, smoke could remain heavy tonight
Hoopa Valley – Moderate to Unhealthy primarily due to Knob Fire, possibly worsen overnight
Willow Creek – Unhealthy primarily due to Knob fire, possibly worsen overnight
Garberville, Redway – Good to Moderate conditions
Weitchpec – 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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Kimberly Wear

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

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