Mendocino Complex of Fires grows larger across three counties

Together the two fires, which have not merged, have burned 290,000 acres

(Originally published at 12:39 p.m. PDT August 7, 2018)

The two wildfires that comprise the Mendocino Complex of Fires continue to chew up acres in three counties in northern California — Mendocino, Lake, and Colusa Counties.

The Ranch Fire, north and east of Clear Lake, has been expanding on all sides for the last two days except for the northwest side. Firefighters have slowed the growth near Upper Lake, Nice and Lucerne, but it has kept moving on the southeast side around Indian Valley reservoir and on the northeast side in the remote areas west of Lodoga.

To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Mendocino Complex, including the most recent, click HERE.

The River Fire west of Clear Lake has only spread substantially in recent days on the north side east of Talmage. In spite of reports that the two fires have merged, as of Monday night they were more than two miles apart.

If the size of the two fires are considered together, they have burned 290,692 acres, which would make the complex of two fires, which are managed together, the largest in modern recorded state history. But if added to the list, it would need an asterisk since it is two fires. The Ranch Fire has blackened 241,772 acres, and considered alone it qualifies as the 5th largest in modern California history. To reach the number one position it would have to exceed the 281,893 acres attributed to last December’s Thomas Fire near Santa Barbara. The River Fire has burned 48,920 acres.

map Mendocino complex Fires California wildfires
Map showing the perimeter, in red, of the Mendocino Complex of Fires at 9 p.m. MDT, August 6, 2018. The white line was the perimeter two days before. The red shaded areas represent intense heat. Click to enlarge.

Mendocino Complex burns more than 273,000 acres

(Originally published at 8:12 a.m. PDT August 6, 2018)

The Mendocino Complex of Fires east of Ukiah, California has blackened more than 273,664 acres, becoming the second largest wildfire in the state’s recorded history if the size of the two fires in the “complex” are combined. Since we last reported on the fire two days ago it has grown by 120,000 acres, according to the numbers released by CAL FIRE Monday morning.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Mendocino Complex of Fires, including the most recent, click HERE.)

The Ranch Fire, north of Clear Lake, over the last two days has spread five miles east, one to two miles north, and three miles south. Sunday it spread into the footprint of the Pawnee Fire that in June of this year burned 14,000 acres west and south of Indian Valley Reservoir north of Highway 20.  The blaze is threatening communities on the east shore of Clear Lake, including Nice, Lucerne, Pepperwood, Glenhaven, and Clearlake Oaks.

The other fire that makes up the “complex” is the River Fire west of Clear Lake. About three-quarters of the perimeter has been quiet recently, but it is still moving aggressively north, coming to within less than two miles of merging with the Ranch Fire to the north. The report by one local media outlet that they had already merged was premature.

largest California wildfires fires
The table released by CAL FIRE on August 4, 2018 does not include the Mendocino Complex, since it is still very actively growing.

On the two fires 75 residences have been destroyed and another 9,300 remain threatened.

Resources assigned to the fire include 432 fire engines, 89 water tenders, 15 helicopters, 57 hand crews, and 80 dozers, for a total of 3,781 personnel.

map Mendocino Complex fires
Map showing the perimeter, in red, of the Mendocino Complex of Fires at 7 p.m. MDT, August 5, 2018. The white line was the perimeter two days before. The red shaded areas represent intense heat. Click to enlarge.

Nationwide on wildfires 558 hand crews, 186 helicopters, and 1,907 fire engines are assigned on wildfires, for a total 28,234 personnel including overhead and other firefighting resources.

Australia and New Zealand have sent 138 fire personnel to assist. They are currently deployed in California, Oregon, and Washington.

 

The Mendocino Complex of Fires grows by 43,000 acres

The Ranch Fire will most likely burn into the Pawnee Fire of June, 2018.

(Originally published at 11:02 a.m. PDT August 3, 2018)

The Mendocino Complex of Fires east of Ukiah, California were extremely active Thursday, adding another 43,000 acres west and east of Clear Lake. Firefighters were again engaged in house to house structure protection as the fire moved through the wildland-urban interface.

The northernmost of the two fires, the Ranch Fire, ran for about 6 miles to the southeast, coming very close to the burn scar from the Pawnee Fire of June, 2018, according to the infrared sensing data from a fixed wing aircraft collected at 11:30 p.m. August 2. The Ranch Fire also grew significantly on the northeast side.

Mendocino complex fires river ranch
Map showing the perimeter, in red, of the Mendocino Complex of Fires at 11:30 p.m. MDT, August 2, 2018. The white line was the perimeter 24 hours before. The red shaded areas represent intense heat. Click to enlarge.

The River Fire west of Clear Lake only showed major growth on its north side, where it moved to the north for up to a mile along an eight-mile long active edge.

Photographer Kent Porter wrote on Twitter (see below) that more evacuations were ordered north of Clear Lake. He said “the firefight was intense in Scotts Valley” Thursday. His photos confirm that statement.

To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Mendocino Complex of Fires, including the most recent, click HERE.

Both fires are remaining active throughout the night. On Friday firefighters will prep and construct primary and secondary control lines. Difficult access and hot, dry weather make it difficult to fight fire directly in many areas.

CAL FIRE reports that 41 residences have been destroyed, up from 14 in Thursday’s update. The two fires have burned a total of 153,738 acres — 112,226 on the Ranch Fire and 41,512 on the River Fire, according to the numbers released by CAL FIRE Friday morning. That is a total increase of over 43,000 acres since Thursday.

Kent Porter got some great photos at the fire on Thursday, including one of the 747 Supertanker. Click on the pictures below to see larger versions.

North part of Mendocino Complex of Fires was very active Wednesday

Late in the day the Ranch Fire ran for at least five miles to the southeast

The northernmost of the two fires in the Mendocino Complex east of Ukiah, California, the Ranch Fire, was very active late in the day on Wednesday, running for at least five miles to the southeast according to the very reliable information from a mapping aircraft at 11:10 p.m. August 1. It is possible it may have spread for an additional three miles three to five hours later, but the data from the later overflights by the MODIS and VIIRS satellites could have been detecting heat and debris in a powerful convection column, rather than fire on the ground. All of the significant activity on the Ranch Fire Wednesday was on the northeast and east sides.

map Mendocino Complex River Fire Ranch fire
Map showing the perimeter, in red, of the Mendocino Complex of Fires at 11:10 p.m. MDT, August 1, 2018. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. The red shaded areas represent intense heat. Click to enlarge.

With the expansion of the Ranch Fire it is now about three to five miles northeast of the community of Nice and four to seven miles northeast of Lucerne; both of these communities are on the east shore of Clear Lake.

To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Mendocino Complex of Fires, including the most recent, click HERE.

Apparently firefighters on the River Fire have been very successful on the south and east flanks, with those locations showing little to no growth Wednesday in the Lakeport and Finley areas. The north side, however, was quite active, spreading north for about a half mile across the north perimeter.

CAL FIRE reports that 14 residences have been destroyed. The two fires have burned a total of 110,168 acres — 74,890 on the Ranch Fire and 35,278 on the River Fire, according to the numbers released by CAL FIRE Thursday morning.

Mendocino Complex of Fires spreads closer to Lakeport

There are media reports that homes were destroyed Tuesday afternoon northwest of Lakeport

ABOVE: Map showing the perimeter, in red, of the east side of the River Fire (part of the Mendocino Complex of Fires) at 11:46 p.m. PDT July 31, 2018. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

(Originally published at 10 a.m. PDT August 1, 2018)

Tuesday afternoon winds pushed the two blazes that comprise the Mendocino Complex of Fires farther east, both spreading for at least a mile. The Ranch Fire moved into sparsely populated areas, but the River Fire ran through an area with scattered ranches northwest of Lakeport, California. Media personnel on scene said the fire was especially intense near Dessie Drive and Hendricks Road. CAL FIRE said Wednesday morning that a total of 10 residences have been destroyed in the two fires, but it is not clear if that number includes what could be additional losses late in the day on Tuesday.

To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Mendocino Complex of Fires, including the most recent, click HERE.

Firefighters were extremely busy Tuesday in that wildland-urban interface as the fire raced through the populated areas. They were protecting structures, then getting chased out by flames, and reestablishing a defense at another structure.

Mendocino Complex fires map
Map showing the perimeter, in red, of the Mendocino Complex of Fires at 11:46 p.m. PDT July 31, 2018. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

Both fires started in Mendocino County but burned into Lake County. The Ranch Fire is now also well established in the Mendocino National Forest.

According to the numbers CAL FIRE released Wednesday morning, the two fires have burned 90,912 acres; 59,019 on the Ranch Fire, and 31,898 on the River Fire.

As usual, Kent Porter got some fabulous shots of the River Fire Tuesday:

Below, a CAL FIRE Battalion Chief explains how they fight fires when you don’t have enough resources. Basically, you protect lives and private property first, then as time and resources permit, deal with the part of the fire that is burning in remote areas.

Firefighters on the Mendocino Complex battle to protect structures around Clear Lake

The fires are threatening 10,200 structures near Upper Lake and Lakeport, California

Above: Map of the Mendocino Complex of Fires. The red line was the perimeter at 9 p.m. PDT July 30, 2018. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours earlier. The red shaded areas represent intense heat.

(Originally published at 5:02 a.m. PDT July 31, 2018)

Firefighters working on the two wildfires in the Mendocino Complex of Fires near Clear Lake east of Ukiah, California are not only battling two fires spreading aggressively near populated areas, they are also competing with numerous other large fires in California and the rest of the United States. With 140 large fires burning, every one needs resources, and not all incident commanders are receiving the numbers of crews, engines, dozers, air tankers, helicopters, and overhead personnel that they have requested.

Of the 25,632 firefighters that have been mobilized in the U.S., the 68,000-acre Mendocino Complex, comprised of the Ranch and River Fires, has obtained almost 2,000 personnel, including 205 fire engines, 38 hand crews, 12 helicopters, 45 dozers, and 43 water tenders.

map Mendocino Complex Fires
3-D map of the Mendocino Complex of Fires. The red line was the perimeter at 9 p.m. PDT July 30, 2018. The red shaded areas represent intense heat at that time.

Seven residences have been destroyed on the two fires and another 12,200 remain threatened.

The Ranch Fire, just north of Upper Lake, has burned about 45,000 acres. So far firefighters have kept it out of the main part of the community and mostly west of Middle Creek near the town. There has been one slop over south of Highway 20 three miles west of the Highway 20/29 intersection.

The 23,000-acre River Fire turned southeast Monday, skirting around Lakeport and Finley as it burned across Highway 175.