Clayton Fire burns more than 175 structures near Lower Lake, California

The fire is burning near the scars from three very large fires from 2015

(UPDATED at 7:35 p.m. PDT August 16, 2016)

The Clayton Fire grew by 67 acres on Monday, but it was on the northeast side near the footprint of last year’s Rocky Fire.  This brings the size of the burned area up to 3,945 acres.

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(UPDATED at 8:40 p.m. PDT August 15, 2016)

CAL FIRE is now reporting that the size of the Clayton Fire at Lower Lake, California is estimated at 4,000 acres. There has been no change in the number of structures burned.

A man has been arrested for starting the Clayton Fire and numerous others. Below is an excerpt from an article in The San Francisco Chronicle:

County officials arrested a 40-year-old Clear Lake man Monday on 17 counts of arson related to numerous fires set over the last year, including the 4,000-acre Clayton Fire that has so far claimed 175 buildings and displaced hundreds of people.

Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin and Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott announced the arrest of Damin Pashilk at a community meeting packed with evacuees at a casino doubling as a Red Cross shelter south of the blaze. Residents gasped at the announcement.

“All 17 counts resulted from a very extensive investigation of numerous fire starts over the last year,” Pimlott said.

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(UPDATED at 9:03 a.m. PDT August 15, 2016)

CAL FIRE public information officer Daniel Berlant reported at 9 a.m. on Monday that the Clayton Fire has burned approximately 175 structures.

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(UPDATED at 7:33 a.m. PDT August 15, 2016)

The Clayton Fire burned into the community of Lower Lake, California Sunday afternoon preceded by spot fires started from the burning embers the wind threw out ahead of the blaze igniting many homes and businesses.

At 6:45 a.m. on Monday CAL FIRE estimated that “100+” structures and 3,000 acres have burned.

The fire started Saturday and had died down Sunday morning, but strong erratic winds developed that pushed the fire very rapidly to the north into Lower Lake.

The fire occurred in an area that experienced three large fires in 2015, the Valley, Rocky, and Jerusalem Fires which together burned approximately 159,000 acres.

The Twitter images below are from Sunday afternoon.

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Originally published at 8:32 p.m. PDT August 14, 2016 Updated at 10:06 p.m. PDT August 14.).

CAL FIRE reports that as of 8 p.m. on Sunday the Clayton Fire has burned 10 structures, including at least 4 residences, near Lower Lake, California, just southeast of Clearlake and 31 air miles northeast of Santa Rosa.

Based on reports from other sources, the actual number of structures destroyed is likely to rise.

After the fire started at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 13, it burned aggressively north, crossing Morgan Valley Road and Cache Creek, impacting the communities of Lower Lake and Clearlake. St. Helena Hospital in Clearlake has been evacuated. Additional structures are threatened and mandatory evacuations are in place.

As of 8 p.m. on Sunday CAL FIRE estimated the size at 3,000 acres.

The fire is burning near the scars from three large fires from 2015. The Valley Fire burned 1,281 homes, 27 apartment buildings, 66 businesses, 581 outbuildings, and approximately 76,000 acres in September, while the Rocky Fire covered about 69,000 acres and destroyed 43 residences and 53 outbuildings in July. The Jerusalem Fire burned 6 homes, 21 outbuildings, and approximately 25,000 acres in August.

The Clayton Fire is being fought by 1,044 personnel, 122 engines, 22 water tenders, 24 hand crews, 7 helicopters, 22 dozers, and about 6 air tankers.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

11 thoughts on “Clayton Fire burns more than 175 structures near Lower Lake, California”

  1. i think the structure count will be alot higher,,not sure if you were hearing 151.160…Tac 2…but they were pretty upset and yelling for help at times.made my short hairs stand up a few times.

  2. As I looked at the Clayton Fire pictures my FIRST thoughts were why are they using heavy flow appliances (from apparatus) in a town with limited water? A colleague just texted “fire hydrant system dry”.

  3. Why were they claiming ‘only 5% contained’ yesterday, but the news choppers were videoing the whole area and there was almost no smoke? Just some smoldering hot spots they were hitting with buckets of water from helos. Looked like 97% contained by noon yesterday. Are they angling for more money to be allocated to Cal Fire?

    1. Containment means that there is a line around the outer area of the fire, that should hold any further spread. So just because you don’t see anything, does not mean it is contained. Without that line, wind, floating embers, hot metal, and other factors, could re-ignite the fire in those areas.

      1. Good read, Dave.
        And then “control” means that the containment lines are likely to hold under current and predicted weather conditions.
        But then, sometimes Mother Nature plays games and we end up with “egg on our faces.”
        Been there, made that call, looked stupid in the media!

    1. I believe it is OK. The majoroty of the structures are sided with stucco and there are large areas of pavement around the main buildings.

  4. Three different issues have been addressed in the recent comments:

    1. A citizen looking at a fire, not seeing smoke, and assuming it is contained.
    2. The definition of Contain and Control, which are as stated by Emmett and Dave. More details are in the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s glossary.
    3. The propensity of most incident management teams in recent years to grossly understate the percent of fireline that is contained. This undermines the credibility of all incident management teams, and not just about containment. It makes a person wonder about the accuracy of the rest of the information distributed by the teams.

  5. And don’t forget the media that constantly interchanges the terms “contained, controlled, suppressed, stopped, extinguished and held” without a consistency in reporting. Of course, that’s the same group that says that wildfires “explode”.

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