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Update at 6:45 p.m.
Crews discovered two more people killed during the North Complex Fire burning in Butte County, Sheriff Kory Honea said Sunday.
The two more deaths associated with the fire brings the death toll to 14, he said. The sheriff said he could not release the names of the most recently killed because they have not been positively identified and their families have not been notified.
As of Sunday, the sheriff’s office had received 181 missing persons reports; 160 of those people have been found and sheriff’s officials were still looking for seven of those, Honea said.
Cal Fire officials said 417 structures have been destroyed, including 253 homes, and another 38 buildings have been damaged.
Burning conditions are not expected to improve Monday, as weather officials plan to issue a Red Flag Warning in areas surrounding the fire, due to hot and dry winds forecast for Monday afternoon, North Complex Meteorologist Dan Borsum said.
The winds, however, could blow smoke away from the fire, possibly making conditions favorable for using air tankers to drop retardant on the fire, he said.
Wildfires burning from Happy Camp in the north to Butte County in the south have charred nearly 1.3 million acres, driven thousands from their homes and killed at least 12 people.
The amount of smoke created from nearby fires exceeded the maximum air quality index of 400 for Butte County. However, air pollution in Chico far exceeded that, reaching a reading of 562 for tiny, microscopic particles called particulates.
Further south, the air quality index reached 396 in Gridley. Both readings are considered hazardous to health, and officials recommend people limit outdoor activity when the air pollution gets that high.
The six fires have also racked up an estimated $192 million in firefighting costs, according to
Since the beginning of the year statewide, wildfires have burned over 3.3 million acres, an area larger than the state of Connecticut, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Since August 15, when a lightning storm moved through much of the state there have been 22 fatalities and more than 4,100 structures destroyed.
Here is a run-down of the fires burning around the North State:
- Location: Siskiyou, Del Norte, Josephine (Oregon) counties
- Size: 130,482 acres (as of Sunday)
- Containment: 0%
- Cost: $2 million
An eerie stillness hangs over the small community of Happy Camp in far Northern California on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2020 days after the Slater Fire roared through the area. The monster fire left the small town in ruins. It is blamed for two deaths and the destruction of more than 150 homes. (Photo: Hung T. Vu/Special to the Record Searchlight)
U.S. Forest Service officials have combined the Slater and Devil fires in the far northwestern part of the state into one fire.
Both fires are burning mainly in timber, logging slash and brush. The Devil Fire is estimated at 4,149 acres. The Slater Fire is estimated at 126,333 acres, according to Saturday night’s infrared flight.
“Fire activity around Happy Camp has now significantly moderated, with humidity damping down fire activity along the fire perimeter there,” according to a forest service update on the fires.
Crews are mopping up and patrolling in Happy Camp and falling hazard trees. Power companies are working to restore infrastructure so residents can return home.
This map shows the approximate perimeter of the Slater Fire as of 5 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (Photo: Inciweb)
Evacuation orders remain in effect for most of Happy Camp. However, Elk Creek Road and Seiad were both downgraded to an evacuation warning.
Forest service officials say their fire suppression strategy for the Slater and Devil fires changed from protecting structures and utilities to a “larger perimeter containment strategy.”
“While the Devil Fire continues to move mainly to the north and west, equipment and crews were able to pick up the pace building fireline to defend the town of Seiad, and so far that line has held,” U.S. Forest Service officials said Saturday night.
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On the northwest side of the fire in Del Norte County, firefighters focused on point protection, primarily along Highway 199 from Gasquet to Collier Tunnel. Forest officials said Saturday morning the fire was hung up at Oregon Mountain Road and is backing into Knopki Creek.
On the south end of the Slater/Devil fires, favorable weather slowed fire activity Friday and overnight. But the blaze also weakened trees in the burn area, and some have fallen along Highway 96, posing risks to firefighters and others, according to forest officials.
Firing operations will start Saturday along the Slater Fire’s eastern edge to protect structures in the Thompson Creek area.
Firefighters worked on structure protection in the Highway 96 corridor. Further up the east flank of the fire, crews made progress on a fire line between the town of Seiad and the fire.
Highway 199 remained closed from the Oregon/California border south to Panther Flat Campground.
An eerie stillness hangs over the small community of Happy Camp in far Northern California on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2020, days after the Slater Fire roared through the area. The fire struck the northern part of the town. It is blamed for two deaths and the destruction of about 150 homes. These two men use solar panels to charge their phones as they wait to find out whether their homes are still standing. (Photo: Hung T. Vu/Special to the Record Searchlight)
Highway 96 remained closed from Portuguese Creek to Clear Creek (south of Happy Camp).
New closure orders were in effect for the Wild Rivers and Siskiyou Mountains Ranger Districts of the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest.
Siskiyou County officials have said residents who need a welfare check on their animals in the evacuation zones of the Slater/Devil fires can contact them at 530-643-3658.
- Location: Siskiyou County
- Size: 50 acres (as of Saturday night)
- Containment: 20%
- Incident management page: https://bit.ly/2ZrN8s7
- Butte/Tehama/Glenn Complex
- Location: Tehama, Glenn counties
- Size: 19,609 acres (as of Saturday morning)
- Containment: 95%
- Notes: 16 structures destroyed; the blaze includes multiple other smaller fires, according to state officials.
- Incident management page: https://bit.ly/2RiSgtV
- Cost: $53.3 million
- Location: Butte, Plumas counties
- Size: 258,802 acres (as of Saturday night)
- Containment: 26%
- Notes: 14 deaths, 7 missing; evacuations in place; includes the Bear and Claremont Fire, according to state officials
- Incident management page: https://bit.ly/2RhRhKE
- Cost: $41.3 million
The U.S. Post Office in Berry Creek, California is still standing on Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 9, 2020 after the Bear Fire swept through the area. (Photo: Hung T. Vu/Special to the Record Searchlight)
Fire activity was calm Saturday night in both the north and south zones of the fire as humidity increased overnight.
Crews continued to do backburning and dozer lines are being built and meeting the 2018 Camp Fire scar.
The size of the complex increased by more than 6,000 acres throughout Saturday and containment rose from 21% to 22%. At least 325 structures have been destroyed and at least 31 have been damaged.
On Sunday morning, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection released a map of properties damaged and destroyed in the west zone of the North Complex. The map can be found at this link: bit.ly/3hmFDst
- Tehama, Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity counties
- Size: 875,059 acres (as of Saturday night)
- Containment: 25%
- Notes: 1 death; merged fires including Elkhorn, Hopkins, Willow, and Vinegar; includes multiple fires including the Doe Fire, according to state officials
- Incident management page: https://bit.ly/3meMIPB
- Cost: $37.2 million
Fires previously known as the Elkhorn, Hopkins, Vinegar Peak and Willow Basin fires are now part of the August Complex-North Zone, according to U.S. Forest Service officials.
Here are the evacuation notices as of Sunday morning:
Evacuation Order: Areas south of Highway 36 in Bridgeville, and all communities along Alderpoint Road down to the Mendocino/Trinity County Line
Evacuation Warnings: Areas west of Bell Springs Road to Highway 101 spanning from Alderpoint Road to the Mendocino / Trinity County Line. This includes the City of Garberville
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office issued the following mandatory evacuation order: The area of Island Mountain, south of the county line, north of Bell Springs Road and north of the Eel River. The national forest area from the Anthony Peak down to Hull Mountain, west of the county line, and east of the Eel River near the Eel River Ranger Station.
- Zone U – South of the County Line, east and north of the East Branch of the South Fork of the Eel River, west of Bell Springs Road
- Zone T – South of Bell Springs, east of Bell Springs Road, north of Iron Peak and Simmerly Road, west of the Eel River
- Zone R – West of and south of Mina Road, south of the North Fork of Eel River, east of the Eel River
- Zone P – South of the county line, east of Mina Road, north of Hulls Valley Road and west of Hulls Creek.
- Zone O – South of the county line, east of Hulls Creek, north of Mendocino Pass Road, and west of Williams Creek
- Evacuation Orders: Communities of Ruth, Kettenpom, Zenia, Hettenshaw Valley
- Evacuation Warnings: Ruth Lake, Mad River, Forest Glen, Post Mountain
Red Salmon Complex
- Location: Trinity and Humboldt counties
- Size: 87,782 acres and 16% contained
- Origin: Started by lightning July 27 and is now burning in timber and threatening several communities.
- Cost: $58.5 million
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