8:3o p.m. UPDATE: The fire continued to experience strong winds, with gusts of 20 to 30 mph out of the northeast today, and they are not expected to subside until tonight. The winds spurred increased fire activity across the fire, causing several spot fires outside of containment lines, but they were caught and contained before they had an opportunity to increase in size.
Yesterday’s spot fire, which became established in French Hotel Creek approximately two miles south of Grizzly Forebay, continued to grow in a southwesterly direction. It is approximately 1.5 miles away from Highway 70, but is not an immediate threat. Last night’s and this morning’s evacuations from the Plumas and Butte counties’ sheriffs remain in place.
Tonight, resources will focus on containing the spot fire in French Hotel Creek, as well as monitoring the rest of the fire’s perimeter and engaging any other areas of heat or spot fires that may appear.
Original story: Plumas County residents from the Butte/Plumas County line to Tobin in the Feather River Canyon remain under mandatory evacuation, and Highway 70 westbound is closed to thru traffic at the Greenville Wye and eastbound traffic stopped at Cherokee Road as firefighters struggled to keep the North Complex Fire from growing with the winds and low humidity. Butte County residents in Pulga, Concow, Big Bend and Yankee Hill are also under mandatory evacs, with warnings in place for Magalia and parts of Paradise.
Late yesterday afternoon a spot fire quickly grew and became established near Grizzly Forebay in the Canyon. Resources including dozers, engines and handcrews responded in an effort to contain this spot fire. Other crews focused on containing any other spot fires throughout tonight’s shift as winds are expected to be sustained at 15-25 mph with gusts of 40+ mph. A Red Flag Warning remains in place through tonight at 9 p.m. and a high wind advisory is in effect until 2 p.m. today.
During this morning’s briefing, Operations Systems Chief Casey Cheesbrough, described the fire situation as “pretty dynamic.”
While winds fueled burning within containment lines on the south zone as expected, the fire did not jump lines from Sly Creek through Little Grass Valley Reservoir up to Onion Valley.
However, it was a different story on the north side where there was quite a bit of activity in the aforementioned Grizzly Forebay area. The spot fire that broke out late yesterday grew rapidly and entered new drainages, and though it paralleled Highway 70, it did not reach the roadway.
After tonight, southwest winds should return, and crews will be assessing how that will affect the area around Bucks Lake. Bucks Lake and the La Porte areas remain under mandatory evacuations. They are also part of the public safety power shutoff. To check on your address go to https://pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/addresslookup/
The fire remains 78 percent contained as of this morning, with 306,135 acres burned. The damaged and destroyed structure count remains at 2,471 (all but one property in the west zone). The death toll remains at 15.
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:
- Butte County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.facebook.com/bcsonews
- Plumas County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.facebook.com/plumascountysheriff
- Yuba County Sheriff’s Office: https://www.facebook.com/yubacountysheriff
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.