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Sept. 12 North Fire Complex Updated: Evacuations to remain in place

Editor’s note: Now that the Claremont-Bear-North Complex Fire has grown and spread into new areas and jurisdictions, Plumas News will devote its time and resources to the fire areas that directly impact Plumas County. We will include links to more information for the portion of the fire that is now referred to as the North Complex Fire West Zone. There are several news outlets and entities reporting the details of the west zone so there is no shortage of coverage. Today, Victoria Metcalf, the assistant editor for Feather Publishing’s currently shuttered newspapers, will be going out on the fire to bring us back information from the ground firefight. 

UPDATE 8 p.m. The North Complex Fire is now 258,496 acres and 22 percent contained.

Temperatures and winds are predicted to  be mild tonight, with relative humidity recovery in the 30-35 percent range on ridgelines. A moderate weather and wind event is expected to arrive Sunday, increasing southwest winds. Crews are cognizant of this as they continue firing operations. Air quality will remain very unhealthy to hazardous. While Quincy has experienced hazardous air quality, it hasn’t been alone. Today Portola was in the hazardous air quality and yesterday Graeagle posted a 790.

The West Zone reported that three more fatalities were found today.

Update 4:30 p.m.: The Plumas County Sheriff announced that evacuation orders for Bucks Lake and La Porte will remain in effect, but the situation will continue to be assessed. Crews are continually working to improve containment and there is a moderate weather/wind event moving in Sunday and Monday. With these two considerations the Sheriff does not expect to change the current order status for Bucks Lake or La Porte for at least the next few days and will provide another update on Tuesday (or before if conditions allow).

Twenty-four  hour security patrols are being provided for the evacuated areas.

Original story: The smoke kept air quality in the hazardous range yesterday for the Quincy area as well as overnight, but that enabled firefighters to make progress on the fire in the past 24 hours. Another day of hazardous air quality is expected today and then south west winds are expected to return tomorrow into the week, which should improve air quality but will also increase fire activity.

The fire continues to remain in its footprint from Lee Summit around East Quincy to Claremont Peak. Firing operations are still occurring on the north and south flank as the weather allows and as the Forest Service works to establish a perimeter and tie in with what Cal Fire is doing in the west zone (near Oroville). That portion of the fire has thus far claimed nine lives, left 16 missing and put to 2,000 buildings damaged or destroyed. Damage assessment is still underway as is the search for more victims. That work is being delayed by active fire.
It was reported last night that the north zone of the fire remains 5 miles from Meadow Valley and Tollgate. Structure protection remains in place for the Bucks Lake area, but there is no threat to any of those areas at this time. Also in the north zone, the Forest Service is working to protect a timber area, and is adjusting its plan slightly, where it had planned to tie the fire into Highway 70. It’s estimated that this work could take seven to 10 days.
In the south zone of the fire, the fire was active close to the west shoreline of Little Grass Valley Reservoir, but crews are keeping fire away from structures there, and the community of La Porte is being protected by fire line and hose lays. It was announced that approximately 500 firefighters will be moving to a camp in Brownsville to allow more efficient access and work.
The West Zone is being managed by CAL FIRE/Butte County and can be defined by drawing a straight line form Big Bend (northwest portion of the fire) directly southeast to the Sly Creek Reservoir. Here is a link to more info: https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/8/18/north-complex-fire/#incident-overview.

For a more in-depth description on tactical operations of the North Complex Fire, please watch the latest operational video updates at: www.facebook.com/USFSPlumas

The fire experienced little growth overnight – the North Complex Fire is 252,313 acres and is 21 percent contained with 3,282 personnel assigned to it.

The Claremont and Bear Fires began Aug. 17 and it appeared that the Forest Service’s strategy to manage the fires was going to be a success, but then the north east winds came in Sept. 8 and blew up the fire (specifically the portion that had been the Bear). It’s estimated that 20,000 individuals are under some type of evacuation order.

For full evacuation lists go to:

Plumas County residents who have shelter needs due to an evacuation are asked to contact Plumas County Social Services at 530-283-6350. Due to the small amount of individuals who have expressed a need  for shelter, the county will be handling those requests as they come in for now, but will continually reassess.

For animals in need of shelter, both large and small, please contact Plumas County Animal Services at 530-283-3673.  Locations are prepared to receive animals.

Attached is the latest evacuation information from the Plumas County Sheriff. The Highway 70 corridor is an advisory only at this time.

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. But as of 2 p.m. Aug. 5, all evacuation advisories have been lifted. 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. An evacuation order remains in effect for Bucks Lake and structure protection remains in the area.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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