Sept. 14 North Complex UPDATED: Sloat, Meadow Valley residents should be alert today

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.

UPDATE 9 p.m.: The fire is now 264,565 acres and 39 percent containment.

On the North Zone, Red Flag conditions tested containment lines today as expected, however they held within the current perimeter. Resources in the most active areas of the fire made great progress today building containment lines from Lookout Rock down to Big Bend.

Despite red flag conditions, favorable winds allowed for a small firing operation earlier today at Four Trees to ensure the fire’s edge was kept in check, guiding it up to Oroville Quincy Highway. One 40-acre spot fire was caught on the north side of the highway by Frog Rock, but firefighters are confident they will contain it tonight.

On the South Zone, containment lines remained secure today while crews engaged in significant mop up work along Mooreville Ridge from Sly Creek Reservoir to Little Grass Valley.

With favorable winds and slightly clearer air conditions, two small strategic firing operations were executed along the north side of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to Onion Valley, and in the extremely steep terrain of McCarthy’s Bar. During that small window of time when clearer skies allowed for aircraft to fly, two type 1 helicopters made water drops to support firefighters in these areas. Tonight if conditions allow, crews will continue firing along the PCT east to Chimney Rock, which will eventually tie into a small section of LaPorte Road (several miles north of the town of La Porte).

West Zone:
Please see CAL FIRE Team 4 updates.

One additional fatality was reported today by the Butte County Sheriff’s Department.

Video operational updates and live broadcasts can be viewed on Plumas National Forest’s Facebook page. 

UPDATE 9:18 a.m.: During this morning’s operation’s briefing, officials warn that due to the wind threat today, the residents of Meadow Valley and Tollgate in the North Zone and Sloat in the South Zone should be alert to any advisories that might be issued.

While crews have worked to keep the fire contained and away from communities, winds could cause the fire behavior to become erratic. “Advisories for the community of Sloat are possible,” said Jake Cagle, operations sections chief.

During his update he said that resources continue to be spread thin, and though there are 3,400 personnel assigned to the North Complex, it’s split between all of the zones.

While there is concern for Sloat in the South Zone, Cagle said the goal is to keep the fire out of Haskins and Bucks Lake in the North Zone. He noted that structure protection is in place with hose lay around the homes. Meadow Valley is under an advisory and should be alert in the event that order is changed.

Original Story: It was during a Red Flag Warning on Sept. 8 that the Bear Fire drove down to Oroville and became what is now known as the North Complex West Zone. Today, another Red Flag Warning is in effect, but the difference is wind direction. Rather than coming from the northeast, winds are coming from the southwest, pushing the fire in the opposite direction. The wind also are forecast to be less strong than what was experienced at that time.

Fire officials have known the change is coming and have tried to prepare for this event using firing operations in the hopes to minimize spread. Southwest winds of 15 to 25 mph, with gusts of up to 35 mph, are expected today and the area will remain breezy and dry through Wednesday with low humidity of nine to 15 percent. While one could assume that since the winds are going in the opposite direction, the fire would simply burn back over what has already burned, but fire officials have explained that the path would be wider going back in the opposite direction, and could burn areas that were unscathed originally.

The fire is now at 261,488 acres with 26 percent containment. There are 14 confirmed fatalities (from the west zone) and approximately 2,000 structures damage or destroyed, though teams are continuously updating information.

Air quality will remain very unhealthy throughout the area.

Evacuation orders for Bucks Lake and La Porte will remain in effect due to the Red Flag Warning. The Sheriff said he does not expect to change the mandatory evacuation status for Bucks Lake or La Porte for at least the next few days and will provide update as conditions change. Twenty-four hour security patrols are being provided for the evacuated areas.

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

For full evacuation lists go to:

The most recent advisory from the Plumas County Sheriff is at the bottom of this post.

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.

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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