By Debra Moore
After two months and 12 days of daily updates on the North Complex Fire, this will be our last daily entry and instead we will report on the fire as warranted. It has been a long haul, but the end is near. Looking back, it’s a kaleidoscope of images and memories — the huge plumes of smokes, days of air quality that ranked the worst in the country, closed roads, evacuated communities, parades of fire trucks, thank you signs, Jake …
While the North Complex Fire went on to ravage communities in Butte County, destroying or damaging 2,455 structures and claiming 16 lives (as announced today), Plumas County was relatively spared and for that we are grateful. Fire season is not yet over and the public is urged to continue to use caution when working or recreating outdoors.
As of this morning, the fire’s footprint ticked up slightly to 318,935 acres and remains 96 percent contained.
The focus continues to be monitoring hot spots and suppression repair. According to the latest report from the Forest Service, there were 372.1 miles of dozer line built in the process of containing this fire; 48 percent has been repaired. Out of the 52.8 miles of handline put in for this fire, 64 percent has now been repaired. There were 147 miles of road damage incurred in this fire and half of that has now been repaired.
Management of the incident is transitioning today from the Type 2 team to a local Type 3 team; fire camp will remain at the Incident Command Post at the fairgrounds and the Type 3 team will finish the work. The Type 3 team plans weekly updates, but more often if needed.
A Burned Area Emergency Response team has been working on a plan to minimize future damage that may occur as winter – and future precipitation – arrives. For now, weather conditions will continue on a warming and drying trend, with Sunday expected to be the warmest day.
The Plumas National Forest has a necessary closure in place for the fire area; for details, please check https://www.fs.usda.gov/alerts/plumas/alerts-notices Only part of the Plumas National Forest is closed due fire-related safety risks. Most of the Forest is open for recreation. In the affected areas, Forest Service roads and campgrounds are closed. Falling trees, smoldering stump holes and moving heavy equipment are some of the public safety hazards on closed public lands. Longer term hazards include landslides and flash flooding caused by erosion or suppression activities not yet repaired in the closure area can lead to serious injury or death without warning. Law enforcement is patrolling the area. Please use caution as fire personnel continue working in the area. Drive carefully and watch for fire equipment. Watch your speed and also be aware of the logging trucks around La Porte Road.
The North Complex Fire originated with the Bear and Claremont fires following lightning strikes Aug. 17.