What we know Tuesday about North State wildfires: Crews work to protect homes in August Complex

David Benda Redding Record SearchlightPublished 10:31 AM EDT Sep 22, 2020Editor's note: We have made this stor

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Fire crews continued their work Monday to protect homes in the northern part of the August Complex, which ranks as the largest wildfire in California history.

Firefighters are working to prevent flames from crossing Highway 36.

The August Complex of fires is burning in Tehama, Trinity, Mendocino, Humboldt, Lake and Glenn counties. The complex's huge size is due to many lightning fires merging, including the Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, Doe and Vinegar fires.

Containment was 34% Monday — the same as Sunday.

Crews are conducting burning operations to contain the south portion of the complex. The east side of the south zone is fully contained, officials said.

The perimeter of the August Complex is more than 565 miles, which officials say is a greater distance than the drive from Red Bluff to Boise, Idaho.

In the north zone, Lower Mad River Road between Dam Camp and Fir Cove is closed due to smoke and fire traffic in the area. Fire operations were conducted to secure the area along South Fork Mountain down behind homes in Ruth, which brought controlled fire down the western slope. Additional dozer lines were constructed between houses to bolster structure defense. Officials said that this operation will continue throughout the week.

Most of the complex has burned in the Mendocino National Forest. Latest figures as of Saturday show 565,990 acres were in the Mendocino forest with 101,985 acres in Six Rivers National Forest and 82,758 acres in Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

Tall grass up to 2½ feet, chaparral brush up to 6 feet and timber have burned, contributing to the wildfire smoke that's fouled the air around Northern California.

Here's a rundown of fires burning around the North State:

August Complex 

  • Location: Tehama, Mendocino, Humboldt, Lake, Glenn, Trinity counties
  • Size: 846,732 acres (all zones as of Monday night; West Zone at 93,776 acres and 20% contained)
  • Containment: 34% 
  • Notes: 1 death (volunteer firefighter Diana Jones, 63, died in the fire Aug. 31); 11 injuries; largest fire in California history, third largest fire in U.S. history; 86 structures destroyed; merged fires include Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, Doe and Vinegar
  • Incident management page: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/6983/
  • Cost: $45.7 million (as of Tuesday)
  • Expected containment: Nov. 15, 2020

North Complex

  • Location: Plumas and Butte counties, southwest of Susanville
  • Size: 298,191 acres (Monday evening)
  • Containment: 74% 
  • Notes: A bear found injured in the West Zone of the North Complex is in guarded condition, but stable. The blaze is burning west toward the Ponderosa Reservoir and southwest down to the South Fork of the Feather River, as welll as south toward Forbestown Reservoir Road. Crews are building both direct and indirect control lines to keep the fire away from Forbestown, Woodleaf, Clipper Mills and Strawberry Valley. The fire's western and southern perimeters are holding with no fire growth expected. Some 140 California National Guard soldiers arrived Sunday to help in mopping up. Fifteen people have died and 1,784 structures have been lost.
  • Incident management page: https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/8/18/north-complex-fire/
  • Cost: $97.4 million (as of Tuesday)

Slater/Devil Fires

  • Location: Siskiyou, Del Norte, Josephine (Oregon) counties
  • Size: 156,135 acres (148,677 Slater; 7,458 Devil as of Monday evening)
  • Containment: 22% for Slater, 18% for Devil
  • Notes: Two fatalities, 150 residences destroyed, 11 structures damaged, 5,058 structures threatened. Residents next to the Cave Junction, Oregon, city limits remain at a Level 1 "be ready to evacuate" level. Wildland crews are continuing to establish control lines, including along Highway 199 to protect Gasquet in Del Norte County. Crews are digging line alont the fire's north side, south of Cave Junction, Takilma, Sun Star and over to Browntown. The Slater Fire to the south is mainly in mop-up and patrol status. Evacuation warnings were lifted Monday for the town of Happy Camp, Seiad and Elk Creek area. Evacuations remain for Indian Creek Road and Indian Creek Meadows, where the roads are closed.
  • Cost: $15.5 million ($15.4 million Slater, $100,000 Devil)
  • Incident management page: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7173/

Fox Fire

  • Location: Siskiyou County, Callahan area
  • Size: 2,029 acres (Monday evening)
  • Containment: 31% 
  • Notes:  No significant fire activity from Sunday night into Monday. The fire is holding south of Forest Road 40N17 as crews continue to build a control line into the Trinity Alps. Evacuations have been lifted for west of Callahan at the South Fork of the Scott River, but an evacuation warning remains. The Fox Lake Trail and Forest Service Road 40N17 remain closed along with the Klamath National Forest until Sept. 24.
  • Cost: $1 million
  • Incident management page: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7203/

Red Salmon Complex

  • Location: Trinity and Humboldt counties, northeast of Willow Creek mainly in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area
  • Size: 104,667 (Monday evening)
  • Containment: 28%
  • Notes: Monday was Day 56. Crews are working to build control lines while waiting for the right weather conditions to do firing operations. The southwest section remains active. As the air clears, helicopter pilots are dropping buckets of water on key hot spots. Hose lays, pumps and other structure-protection measures remain in Denny and Forks of Salmon. An evacuation warning in effect for Forks of Salmon.
  • Cost: $66.7 million (as of Tuesday)
  • Expected containment: Sept. 30, 2020
  • Incident management page: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/6891/56526/

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