UPDATE 2pm, 10/16/17 — People can now begin to return to the Van Arsdale neighborhood, north of the Stroh Ranch (also known as John Day Hill), on both sides of the Eel River. This includes Van Arsdale Road, Oat Gap Road, Ridgewood Road, and all feeder roads. The area will remain under an evacuation warning, so please stay alert, but the mandatory evacuation has been lifted.
Food waste dumpsters will be available all week from 12 – 5pm in Redwood Valley Elementary School on School Way (this is the old school), at the Potter Valley rodeo grounds, and in Willits at the WISC center on 472 East Valley Street.
MENDOCINO Co., 10/16/17 — As firefighters continue to bring the Redwood Fire under ever greater control, and as the fire has burned out in large areas, the task of rebuilding and repopulation has begun. Today the mandatory evacuation was lifted for Cave Creek and Appaloosa Way, as well as feeder roads, and the evacuation warning was lifted for Redwood Valley and parts of Willits except Pine Mountain, which remains open but under a warning. The Fire has been 50% contained, at a size of 35,800 acres and growth has all but stopped. In the end the fire seems to have killed eight people in Mendocino County. Between Mendocino and Lake Counties 433 single family homes burned down, four commercial structures and another 242 minor structures were destroyed. The specific breakdown between Lake and Mendo was not immediately available, but earlier breakdowns showed more than 200 single family homes destroyed in Mendocino County.
After eight days of displacement, of fighting a monsterous blaze, of comforting and aiding those who had to flee while remaining vigilant and prepared to flee themselves, many in the community are exhausted. Long hours have been put in by civilian and first responder alike — firefighters on the line, police officers patrolling and evacuating, and neighbors volunteering to aid both friend and stranger who very suddenly find themselves without a home, bereft.
Now, with the smoke still hanging in the air, and smell of ash and fire still lingering, the long and difficult task of rebuilding entire communities begins. There is a local assistance center opening Tuesday at Mendocino College to assist people who have lost their homes, the link has more information about what resources are available.
Officials will hold a press conference at 3:30pm today, at the county’s administrative center on Low Gap Rd., to talk about rebuilding. Attending will be State Senator Mike McGuire, Assemblyman Jim Wood, the director of CalOES, Mark Ghilarducci, and other local and state officials. (The Mendocino Voice will live stream the event).
For people returning to site where once their house stood, seeing only ash and destruction, the effects can be traumatic. Sheriff Tom Allman has urged all in the community to be supportive of those facing such tremendous loss, in this time, and the community has definitely lived up to this request. But there are other concerns, the site of a burned down home is not a safe one, and CalFire has issued a warning and pamphlets with advice on what to do.
To begin, remember that though the top layer of ash may be cold, there could be hot embers beneath. Wear protective clothing and shoes. Less obvious than this, insurance and programs to aid in clean up may be voided if the footprint of destruction is excessively disturbed. The sheriff’s office and the county government have told people to document everything, and to not expand the footprint, being digging. Allman explained that you may look for a jewelry box, or a fire safe, but do not bring a shovel or other digging equipment or dumpsters. The state agency CalRecycle will be coming to the county to aid in the clean up task.
Here is some additional advice from CalFire about what to do in this moment.Mendocino Complex Safety Message (Repopulation 2) (1)
Here are the press releases concerning repopulation, and the fire update:10-16-17 incident updateAM