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Sept. 15 North Complex Fire: Progress made despite Red Flag Warning

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 8:15 p.m.: The fire has grown to 273,335 and containment dropped to 34 percent.

On the north zone, the fire was most active today on Red Mountain where winds cast spot fires approximately one half-mile ahead of the slopover that formed overnight. Firefighters focused on containing them and other spots in the Willow Creek area. Crews also constructed bulldozer line on both the east and west sides of this slopover to box it in at Oro-Quincy Road.

Moving west, firefighters were successful in containing other previous small spot fires and slopovers, while holding the fire along constructed bulldozer lines.

To the northeast side of the fire, containment lines are holding well. Firefighters plan to continue patrolling, while also backhauling equipment and initiating road repairs.

In the South Zone, crews accomplished a small amount of firing along the Pacific Crest Trail to Chimney Rock. Just north of Onion Valley winds continued to slowly push the fire northeast into steep terrain where crews focused on constructing indirect lines to eventually catch it.

Along Mooreville Ridge, crews continued to successfully mop up and improve containment lines from Little Grass Valley Reservoir area south to Sly Creek Reservoir, while also constructing and reinforcing bulldozer lines along LaPorte Road.

Structure protection remains in place for the Bucks Lake areas as well as La Porte and Little Grass Valley Reservoir.

UPDATE 8:15 a.m.: As winds surfaced last night, the fire became more active in the North Zone resulting in a slopover that moved north through Granite Basin, on the south side of Oro Quincy Highway. Firefighters will prioritize that portion of the fire today.

Other areas of the fire remained within the current footprint with no major movement from Willow Creek west to Big Bend. Firefighters will continue to work on containing spot fires from yesterday. Structure protection groups are in place surrounding the fire’s perimeter to protect nearby communities.

Last night in the South Zone, crews held the fire within containment lines and conducted significant mop up. Most fire activity was located in Onion Valley and by Wilson-Gomez Mine due to the winds. Today, if weather conditions allow, crews will continue firing east to Chimney Rock, which will eventually tie into a small section of LaPorte Road (several miles north of the town of La Porte). Crews plan to hold and mop up along Mooreville Ridge from Sly Creek Reservoir up to Little Grass Valley, while also constructing and reinforcing bulldozer lines.

Original story: Yesterday’s Red Flag warning has expired and the North West Complex Fire weathered the event well. While conditions tested containment lines as expected, for the most part they held within their current perimeters. Conditions allowed for the use of aircraft to assist firefighters on the ground.

In the North Zone  good progress was made building containment lines from Lookout Rock down to Big Bend. The weather even allowed for a small firing operation 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, and firefighters worked to contain it.

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

The fire is now 269,218 acres and reached 39 percent containment.

Though progress was made, the Plumas National Forest and all other California national forests will continue to be temporarily closed. Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore based said that based on forecasted winds and the potential for new fire starts and spreading of the existing fires, he was signing new closure orders to extend for a week but would be assessing the situation on a daily basis.

The West Zone can be defined by drawing a straight line from Big Bend (northwest portion of the fire) directly southeast to the Sly Creek Reservoir. For details on that portion of the fire go to  CAL FIRE Team 4 updates.

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

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

Air quality will remain very unhealthy throughout the area.

Evacuation orders for Bucks Lake and La Porte remain in effect. 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.

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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