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Mendocino Complex Morning Update (Aug. 12, 2018)


WILLOWS, Calif. — The Ranch Fire is now the largest recorded fire in California’s history. The previous record was held by the 2017 Thomas Fire at 281,893 acres. The Ranch Fire grew approximately 6,000 acres in the last twenty-four hours and is currently 282,479 acres and 62 percent contained. The Ranch Fire is burning in the Snow Mountain Wilderness and the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument.

Ranch Fire: On Saturday, firefighters were able to hold and improve the dozer line along McLeod Ridge from Lake Pillsbury towards the fire’s edge. Dozer operators continued constructing dozer line along Gilmore Ridge and north through the 2012 Mill Fire scar toward Davis Flat. Crews improved the fireline in the steep canyons near Clover Valley in the southern portion of the fire. Good progress was made constructing contingency dozer lines in the Potter Valley area and along Bushy Camp and Noel Ridges. Air tankers and helicopters were used to support firefighters on the ground.

Sunday, dozer operators will continue constructing dozer line along Gilmore Ridge and north through the 2012 Mill Fire scar toward Davis Flat. This is to secure the fire’s northeast corner to keep the fire west of Stonyford and Century Ranch. Construction of a contingency dozer line along Noel Springs Ridge and Bushy Camp Ridge as an extra precaution will continue.

Firefighters will work around structures in the Lake Pillsbury area, clearing and improving lines around the residences. Reinforcing the dozer line running from the Eel River northeast to south of the community will continue. Crews will improve and hold the dozer line along McLeod Ridge today. Fire managers are looking for opportunities to build fireline within the wilderness.

Crews will patrol the fireline in the steep canyons near Clover Valley in the southern portion of the fire. Engines will mop-up and patrol the areas around Long Valley and Spring Valley.

Firefighters are improving the roads around the northern and western edges of the Pine Mountain Project. This will allow firefighters to contain the fire spread to the north towards Lake Pillsbury and west towards Potter Valley. Crews will improve the contingency dozer line around Potter Valley. Air tankers and helicopters will be used to support the firefighters on the ground and slow the fire’s progress as smoke conditions allow.

River Fire: Crews will continue to patrol the fire’s edge looking for hot spots. They are also implementing suppression repair. The River Fire has not grown in several days and is currently 48,920 acres and 93 percent contained.

There are over 3,400 firefighters assigned to the Mendocino Complex. This includes 41 firefighters from Australia and New Zealand. An additional 200 active duty military firefighters from the 14th Brigade Engineer Battalion arrived Friday and are going through basic firefighting field training Saturday and Sunday.

“I am glad to see all of the cooperation from CAL FIRE, the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Military and all of the other cooperators,” stated Incident Commander Jerry McGowan. He went on to say, “We will all continue to work together to stop this fire, it is our main objective. It has already burned enough land.”

Fire Area Weather: There should be a return to a more normal weather pattern Sunday. Temperatures will be a little cooler, the humidity will be a little higher and the winds lighter than Saturday.

Smoke: Smoke impacts will continue to be heavy in communities near and east of the Ranch Fire, including Clearlake, Stonyford and east to Willows. Moderate impacts are expected west of the fires in Ukiah, Hopland and Willits. The north and central Sacramento Valley will see widespread haze and smoky conditions.

Below is the link to the smoke forecast for today:

photo by Mike Smith (click to enlarge)

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