A view of the fire from Highway 70; the debris and rocks landing on the roadway are a threat to firefighters and other public safety officials in the area. Photo courtesy of Quincy Office of the CHP

Oct. 2 North Complex Fire: Threat to safety along Highway 70

The North Complex Fire, now approaching the seven-week mark, is at 316,685 acres and is 79 percent contained. It’s that last 21 percent that remains stubborn and why earlier this week officials predicted full containment might not come until November, though weather could play a part in changing that outcome.

Meteorologists are predicting a change late next week, with even the possibility of some rain next Saturday. A year ago, early season snow in late September put the lid on the Walker Fire burning in Indian Valley.

To date, the cost of the firefight is pegged at $76 million — and that’s just for the portion that was formerly the Claremont and the Bear, now the the south and north zones — it doesn’t include the west zone near Oroville.

While the perimeter is holding well around most of the fire, yesterday and overnight the fire was still very active along the highway. This poses a safety threat to firefighters and anyone traveling along Highway 70 due to falling rocks and debris. The corridor remains closed to the public.


As of this morning the fire has not spotted over Highway 70, but contingency lines are being built in preparation of that possibility.

Firefighters on the ground will be supported by multiple heavy helicopters as conditions allow. A mobile retardant base has been established for easier access.

Mandatory evacuations remain in place for the Bucks Lake area and portions of the Highway 70 corridor. (See latest information from the sheriff below.)

For the second day in a row Bucks Lake residents are being allowed in to retrieve belongs and weatherize cabins during a brief window  (10 a.m. – 3 p.m. details below). Residents have indicated that’s not enough time and officials are considering additional options.

Air quality in the Quincy area is in the unhealthy range this morning, with surrounding areas also impacted. That trend is expected to continue.

The fire which began Aug. 17, is now ranked fifth in California as being the the deadliest fire in modern history; fifth for being the largest fire, and sixth for the being the most destructive.


In the west zone, please see CAL FIRE Team 4 updates for more up to date information at: www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/8/18/north-complex-fire/

Video operational updates and live broadcasts for all portions of the fire can be viewed on Plumas National Forest’s Facebook page. 

The North Complex began with the Claremont, Bear and Sheep fires. The latter broke out on the Plumas National Forest, but quickly pushed into Lassen County forcing evacuations around Susanville and destroying several homes. (It was broken off from the North Complex and handled separately).

The Claremont Fire broke out Aug. 17 as the result of a lightning strike. It forced evacuations and threatened the communities of East Quincy, La Porte Road, the Highway 70 corridor, Spring Garden, Greenhorn, Cromberg and Sloat during the past weeks. Only one outbuilding has been lost during the fire.

The Bear Fire also broke out Aug. 17 following a lightning strike. Initially it was left to burn because it wasn’t immediately a threat to people or property; it was in steep, rugged terrain; and resources were scarce due to the fires burning across the state. So though it held at 50 acres for a while, it grew to over 12,000 acres and threatened the communities of Bucks Lake, Haskins Valley, Tollgate and Meadow Valley. For full evacuation lists go to:

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.