Glass Fire destroys structures in California’s North Bay

Structures have burned north of St. Helena and on the east side of Santa Rosa

Updated September 28, 2020  |  5:22 p.m. PDT

map Glass Fire
The red line was the perimeter of the Glass Fire mapped by a fixed wing aircraft at 10 p.m. PDT Sept. 27, 2020. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:48 p.m. PDT Sept. 28, 2020. The red dots could be extreme heat in the smoke column, or fire on the ground.

We have an updated map of the Glass Fire in the North Bay area, above, but it should be taken with a grain of salt. The red line was the perimeter mapped by a fixed wing aircraft at 10 p.m. PDT Sept. 27, 2020. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite 512 miles overhead at 2:48 p.m. PDT Sept. 28, 2020. The red dots could be extreme heat in the smoke column, or fire on the ground. The fire is burning so intensely that debris and burning embers in the smoke have their own heat signature, confusing the sensor on the satellite. But, we have much more confidence in the mapping from the fixed wing aircraft.

Hopefully we will get another fixed wing map Monday night.


Updated September 28, 2020  |  2:16 p.m. PDT

Note: the map below is not current, but it is the only one we have available based on actual observations, in this case, from a fixed wing mapping aircraft at 10 p.m. PDT September 27, 2020. At that time the fire had burned 11,000 acres.

map Glass Fire
Glass Fire, a fixed wing mapping aircraft at 10 p.m. PDT September 27, 2020.

The other maps, below, are derived from sensors on satellites orbiting hundreds of miles above the Earth and can show heat from fire on the ground as well as areas of the smoke column with very intense heat.

We know the Glass Fire has spread beyond the red lines on the map above. It is well established east of Santa Rosa and south of Highway 12 in the Trione-Annadel State Park.

Structures at several wineries have burned and others are threatened.


September 28, 2020 | 7:30 a.m. PDT

Glass Fire map
Glass Fire: This map shows heat detected by a satellite at 2:30 a.m. PDT September 28, 2020. It shows heat from fire on the ground as well as areas of the smoke column with very intense heat. Do not use for making decisions. All locations are approximate.

Strong northeast winds have caused at least two wildfires to burn together, the Glass Fire and Shady Fire. The merged fires then spread rapidly from the Calistoga and St. Helena areas of California’s North Bay, southwest into the eastern side of Santa Rosa. At 6:15 a.m. CAL FIRE reported the blaze had burned 11,000 acres.

At about 5 a.m. what we will call the Glass Fire reached the Skyhawk community on the east side of Santa Rosa north of Highway 12, and by 6 a.m. firefighters were battling it near the intersection of the highway and Oakmont Drive.

The Glass Fire started north of St Helena on the east side of Highway 29. As the northeast winds increased, a fire occurred west of the highway. It was named Shady Fire, but may have been a spot fire from the Glass Fire. The two fires burned together and continued moving southwest toward Santa Rosa.

The fire has burned numerous structures and many more are threatened. This very dangerous fire is moving faster than authorities can make evacuation notifications. If you feel threatened do not wait for official notification.

Mandatory evacuations are in effect. For information:

The fire is being driven by strong, dry winds and fuels that have built up in an area that has not seen fire in many decades. Weather stations overnight recorded humidity in the low teens and wind gusts up to 30 mph near Santa Rosa. Winds are expected to decrease through the day on Monday, but the high temperature will be 99 with the relative humidity in the teens. A Red Flag Warning and a Heat Advisory are both in effect.

Fire history Santa Rosa and St Helena
Recorded history of fires in the Santa Rosa and St. Helena area.

One of the areas that have lost structures is Deer Park, north of St. Helena.

Another is Skyhawk Drive in east Santa Rosa.

Zogg Fire grows rapidly southwest of Redding, California

Updated September 28, 2020  |  11:58 p.m. PDT

map Glass Fire Santa Rosa California
Glass Fire: This map shows heat detected by a satellite at 4:06 a.m. PDT September 28, 2020. It shows heat from fire on the ground as well as areas of the smoke column with very intense heat. Do not use for making decisions. All locations are approximate.
Wind Direction, Glass Fire
Wind Direction, Glass Fire 1120 am PDT 9-28-2020

CAL FIRE reports that the Glass Fire is well established in Trione-Annadel State Park south of Highway 12.


Updated September 28, 2020  |  8:27 a.m. PDT

Map of the Zogg Fire
Map of the Zogg Fire at 2:05 a.m. PDT Sept. 28, 2020.

A 2 a.m. mapping flight on Monday by a fixed wing aircraft determined that the Zogg Fire had spread south-southwest for about 14 miles and east for about one mile. It had come to within three miles of reaching Highway 36 the south end. The fire was very active at that time. It was first reported near Zogg Mine Road and Jenny Bird Lane, north of Igo.

The overnight flight mapped it at about 27,000 acres.

Evacuations are in effect, including an area west of Redding, according to KRCRTV:

Update as of 7 a.m.: Areas west of Redding are under a mandatory evacuation order for the Zogg Fire. This includes Muletown Road from Placer Road north to Kanaka Lane. Diggins Way from Placer to the North is being evacuated, as well as all roads off Diggins Way and Muletown Road.

Around 4 a.m., the Redding Police Department posted on Facebook that the fire was no immediate threat to Redding.

Zogg Fire
The north end of the Zogg Fire not far from where it started. Photo from West Peak at 8:33 a.m. PDT Sept. 28, 2020.

The weather forecast predicts for Monday 14 to 16 mph winds out of the north gusting to 24, with relative humidity of 12 percent in the afternoon.


Updated September 27, 2020  |  7:46 p.m. PDT

Zogg Fire map
The map shows heat on the Zogg Fire detected by a satellite at 3 p.m. PDT September 27, 2020.

The map above shows heat on the Zogg Fire detected by a satellite at 3 p.m. PDT September 27, 2020. Since then the fire has spread significantly to the south or southwest across Platina Road.

CAL FIRE reported at about 7:35 p.m. Sunday that the Zogg Fire southwest of Redding, California had burned about 7,000 acres.


Updated September 27, 2020  |  7:03 p.m. PDT

Air tankers currently working on the Zogg Fire southwest of Redding, California include four S-2s, three large air tankers, four military C-130 MAFFS, and two super scoopers.


Updated September 27, 2020 | 5:32 p.m. PDT

Satellite photo, Northern California Fires
Satellite photo, Northern California Fires at 4:41 p.m. PDT Sept. 27, 2020. NASA.

The Zogg Fire showed up on satellite photos soon after it started September 27, 2020.


September 27, 2020 | 5:15 p.m. PDT

map Zogg Fire California Redding
Map showing the location of the Zogg Fire at 3:30 p.m. PDT Sept. 27, 2020.

The Zogg Fire that started southwest of Redding, California at about 2:40 p.m PDT Sunday September 27 spread rapidly to the southwest Sunday afternoon. It was reported about a mile north of Igo, 8 miles west of Highway 273, and five miles south of Whiskeytown Lake.

At 4 p.m. a spot fire was observed near Platina Road and Newscott Lane, about three miles southwest of where the fire was first reported.

By 5:10 p.m. it had burned 1,000 acres, according to CAL FIRE.

Zogg Fire
Zogg Fire, looking east from West Peak at 3:46 p.m. PDT Sept. 27, 2020. AlertWildfire.

Evacuations are in effect.

Zogg Fire
Zogg Fire, looking east from Ducket at 3:32 p.m. PDT Sept. 27, 2020. AlertWildfire.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind warning for the area, for 15 to 25 mph northeast winds gusting to 40 mph, or up to 60 mph in isolated locations.

Meteorologists determine the Creek Fire created two fire tornados

Northeast of Fresno, California earlier this month

Satellite photo showing smoke from fires in California
Satellite photo showing smoke from fires in California at 6:01 p.m. PDT Sept 5, 2020. NASA/Wildfire Today. The Creek Fire

The Creek Fire ran for more than 10 miles and burned 36,000 acres during the first 22 hours after it started at 6 p.m. September 4 northeast of Fresno, California. During that time it created two fire tornados and sent its smoke plume up to 55,000 feet, taller than the tornadic thunderstorms in tornado alley.

An analysis by meteorologists from the National Weather service has revealed that the extreme growth on September 5 generated rare phenomenons — vortices rated at EF2 and EF1, sometimes called fire tornados when they are created by a wildfire.

One was near Mammoth Pool Reservoir and the other was near Huntington Lake. Over 200 people trapped by the fire at Mammoth Pool Reservoir were flown out by courageous National Guard Pilots in helicopters, at times through darkness and smoke.

The NWS personnel rated the vortices based on the effects on trees, including areas where trees were debarked, indicating an EF2 event.

Below is an excerpt from an article by Matthew Cappucci  in the Washington Post.

Jerald Meadows, the warning coordination meteorologist at the Hanford office, said both tornadoes shared common features. “The main contributing factor was the debarking of all the pine trees up with the Mammoth Pool tornado,” Meadows said. “They both uprooted trees to the root balls and snapped large pines. But the [EF1 tornado] did not have any signs of true debarking. We’re probably talking the difference between 100 and 110 miles per hour.”

The Mammoth Pool tornado, which touched down inside the Wagner Campground, snapped several two-foot-diameter trees about 20 to 30 feet above the ground; it was rated as having winds of 115 to 125 mph. The Huntington Lake fire tornado had winds of 90 to 107 mph, and the NWS noted that it was “the result of unprecedented fire activity.”

The article reports that the NWS personnel on duty while the tornados were occurring had concerns about activating their severe weather warning system.

“A tornado warning was considered but not issued,” said [Jerald Meadows, the warning coordination meteorologist at the Hanford Office], who feared that disseminating such an alert might leave people unnecessarily conflicted about deciding whether to shelter or evacuate.

“A tornado warning for a fire opens up a can of worms,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re messaging properly, and we were talking to fire crews letting them know of the circulations we were seeing.”

Before the onslaught of fire tornadoes that has been a hallmark of 2020′s blazes, some National Weather Service offices have had internal discussions and concluded that they would not issue tornado warnings for wildfire-related twisters. While the National Weather Service hasn’t issued specific policy guidance to its 122 forecast offices on how to handle fire tornadoes, Meadows suspects considerable research will be needed to reach a resolution.


This article was edited September 26 to clarify the locations of the fire tornados at Mammoth Pool Reservoir and Huntington Lake.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom.

Southern California Hotshot has been missing since Sept. 20

September 25, 2020  |  2:07 p.m. PDT

Carlos Alexander Baltazar

Authorities in Southern California are searching for Carlos Alexander Baltazar, a member of the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot crew. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office said he was reported missing by his family September 24. His car was found abandoned on Highway 18 near Delta Avenue by the California Highway Patrol on September 20, about 75 yards from his backpack.

The Sheriff’s office said Mr. Baltazar was was off duty when he abandoned his vehicle and was not in the area of the El Dorado Fire.

Carlos Alexander Baltazar

 

Anyone with information about Mr. Baltazar’s location should contact San Bernardino County Sheriff Dispatch at 760-956-5001.

Another member of the Big Bear Hotshots, Charlie Morton, became missing September 17, 2020 while working on the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County and was found deceased the next day. No cause of death has been released. A memorial service was held for Mr. Morton Friday morning, September 25.

August Complex of fires in Northern California has burned 846,000 acres

It is the largest fire in California’s history — by far

Map of the August Complex of fires
Map of the August Complex of fires. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 1:12 p.m. PDT Sept. 22, 2020.

Four wildfires burning in California are so extraordinarily large that it takes two or more of the largest and highest qualified Incident Management Teams (IMT) to organize and supervise the suppression of each these monster fires.

One of those, the 846,898-acre (that is not a typo) August Complex in Northern California has three Type 1 teams– CAL FIRE 5, Great Basin 2, and Alaska 1. This monster of a fire is 63 miles long (north to south) and at its widest point is 47 miles, east to west. The blaze is divided into three zones, West, North, and South Zones. The fire is the result of 37 fires that started on August 17, burning together on the Mendocino National Forest 32 miles southwest of Redding.

One firefighter, Diane Jones from a fire department in Texas, was killed in a vehicle accident August 31. Twenty-one residences have been destroyed.

One individual with COVID-19 symptoms and two other people who had contact with the individual are in isolation until they can be cleared by testing.

Resources assigned to the fire include 70 hand crews, 388 fire engines, and 35 helicopters for a total of 4,290 personnel — a figure that includes 125 California National Guard personnel.

Some lists of the largest fires in the recorded history of California circulating this year have listed complexes, multiple individual fires managed under one organization, high on the list. But a group of fires arbitrarily lumped under one IMT should not, for historical purposes, be ranked.

However, the August Complex is comprised of multiple fires that burned together and became one, so in my mind it legitimately belongs on the list as the largest in the recorded history of the state. The next three on the list at Wikipedia are all multiple-fire complexes; they should at least have asterisks explaining they are not single fires. But even if the multiple-fire complexes are included, the August Complex is still about 388,000 acres larger than number two on the list, the 2018 Mendocino Complex which consisted of two fires, River and Ranch.

bulldozer August Complex fire
Bulldozer on the 26 Road, north flank of the August Complex, Sept. 21, 2020. USFS photo by Mike McMillan.
firefighter August Complex fire
Lassen Hotshot, conducting a firing operation on the August Complex of fires, Sept. 21, 2020. USFS photo by Mike McMillan.

Name released for forestry technician killed September 17 on Southern California fire

Charlie Morton was a Squad Boss on the Big Bear Hotshots

The U.S. Forest Service has released the name of the forestry technician who died September 17, 2020 in Southern California. Charlie Morton, a Squad Boss on the Big Bear Hotshots passed away on the El Dorado Fire .

Below is an excerpt from a message sent to all Forest Service employees by Chief Vicki Christiansen September 21 at 5:35 p.m.


Charlie Morton
Charlie Morton, USFS photo.

“Local efforts to support the firefighter fatality that occurred last Thursday, September 17th have progressed and we are now able to share more information with you. Tragically, Charlie Morton, Squad Boss on the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew, died during suppression activities on the El Dorado Fire on the San Bernardino National Forest in California. The Big Bear Hotshots are local to the San Bernardino National Forest.

“Charlie joined the San Bernardino National Forest in 2007 and worked on both the Front Country and Mountaintop Ranger Districts, for the Mill Creek Interagency Hotshots, Engine 31, Engine 19, and the Big Bear Interagency Hotshots. His family has asked us to share, “Charlie is survived by his wife and daughter, his parents, two brothers, cousins, and friends. He’s loved and will be missed. May he rest easy in heaven.

“The loss of an employee in the line of duty is one of the hardest things we face in our Forest Service family. Certainly, this is true for me as your Chief. Our hearts go out to Charlie’s coworkers, friends and loved ones. Charlie was a well-respected firefighter and leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times. We will keep the Big Bear Hotshots and the San Bernardino National Forest employees and community in our thoughts and prayers.

“Now more than ever we are reminded of the truly honorable work and sacrifices made by our wildland fire employees. They commit themselves each day, for weeks and months on end, to protecting lives and supporting communities around the country, in service to their fellow Americans. Our nation owes them all a debt of gratitude.

“We are still learning about the circumstances surrounding Charlie’s passing. We will provide information on plans for services and expressions of condolence as soon as they become available. But for now, I extend my deepest sympathies to Charlie’s coworkers, friends and loved ones. Again, they will remain in our thoughts and prayers.”


Investigators found that the El Dorado Fire was started by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party.

Send cards and condolences to the Morton family here:
P.O. Box 63564
Irvine, CA 92602.

For FedEx or UPS:
c/o ‘Support for Charlie’
1 League # 63564
Irvine, CA 92602.

We send out our sincere condolences for Mr. Morton’s family, friends, and co-workers.