Editor’s note: This story is being continuously updated with the latest info. What you see at the top is the most recent. For earlier extensive coverage, scroll down.
UDPATE 7:10 p.m. — The evening update for the Mendocino Complex is out, and the fires have continued to grow steadily. Since this morning’s update the Ranch Fire has grown by about 10,000 acres, to 45,076 acres. The River Fire in turn has grown by a much more modest, yet still worrying 2,000 acres to 23,411 acres. The containment for both fires remains at 5%, but it should be noted that firefighter are battling hard against flames encroaching into Upper Lake and Lakeport, and other communities. The containment lines there might be only short distances, but are important to protect life and property.
Thankfully, there have still been no major injuries or fatalities on this fire, while the total personnel devoted to the complex has grown to 2000. Large sections of Lake Co. remain evacuated, with new evacuations ordered today; for reporting on those evacuations scroll down.
Here is the fact-sheet.Incident Update 7.30
UPDATE 3:30 p.m. – CalFire has issued a mid-day video update on the Ranch and River fires, it’s included at the end of this post. Sheriff Tom Allman also shared a video from Highway 20 around the Mendocino-Lake county line on the current situation:
There have been ongoing rumors about planned electrical outages this afternoon, but The Mendocino Voice has confirmed with a variety of official sources and agencies, including representatives from PG&E, the City of Ukiah, and staff at both inland hospitals that there is no scheduled outage. You can read more about the outage rumors here.
A mandatory evacuation is in effect for Kelseyville, Finley, and the following areas from the Lake Co. Sheriff’s Department. Residents are advised to immediately evacuate east on Hwy 29 towards Lower Lake:
The Mandatory Evacuation Area is North of the Lake-Sonoma-Mendocino County Line, east of Highland Springs Road, South of the Lake and West of Bottle Rock Road and Clear Lake State Park including the communities of Finley & Kelseyville. Currently the areas of Soda Bay, Riviera Heights, Buckingham, Riviera West and the Clearlake Riviera are not part of the mandatory evacuation order.
There is also new advisory issued for these areas:
Evacuation Advisory for the Kelseyville area north of Lake-Sonoma County Line; east of Bottle Rock Road; south of Clear Lake; and west of Soda Bay Road, Red Hills Road, and Highway CA-175; including the subdivisions of Soda Bay, Riviera Heights, Buckingham Park, Riviera West, and Clear Lake Riviera west of Soda Bay Rd.
A new evacuation advisory has been issued for parts of Lake County as of 2 p.m. The advisory includes:
- The Mendocino National Forest within the boundaries of Lake County, and
- Lake Pillsbury Basin and surrounding area
- North of Bartlett Springs Road, east of the Ranch Fire, south of the Lake-Mendocino-Glenn County Line, and west of Lake-Colusa County Line
- The Lucerne and Paradise Valley areas, north of Clear Lake, east of the RanchFire, south of Bartlett Springs Road, west of Paradise Valley Drive
The Mendocino County Board of Supervisors will be holding a special meeting concerning the emergency response to the Mendocino Complex tomorrow morning, July 31 at 9 a.m. in the board chambers on Low Gap Road in Ukiah. The details and agenda can be on the county’s meeting calendar.
The Lake Co. Sheriff’s Dept. recommends that people who are trying to connect with loved ones in Lake County should use the “Safe and Well” people locating service provided by the American Red Cross. Here’s the info:
“Let folks know you are safe, even if you haven’t evacuated. The SAFE AND WELL locating service from the American Red Cross is now active. Click the link, https://safeandwell.communityo
s.org/cms/index.php to list yourself as Safe. Use the Mendocino Complex Fire-July 2018 Disaster Event. Looking for someone? Use the same link and click on Search Registrants.”
Several different hospitals in Lake County are currently closed due to the mandatory evacuation orders — including Sutter Lakeside Hospital, Tribal Health, and the Lakeview Clinic. According to the Lake County Sheriff’s Department, “Adventist Health Hospital and Adventist Health Clinics in Clearlake, Middletown and Kelseyville are operating as normal. For emergency refills and non-emergency needs please go to one of the clinics as not to overwhelm the emergency department.”
If you are smelling smoke, you may be experiencing health impacts, which can be especially difficult on the young, the old, and people with medical issues. Daily updates on the air quality index are available at the Environmental Protection Agency’s air quality website. Free N-95 masks will also be available at the Mendocino County library branches in Willits, Covelo, and Ukiah during the library’s open hours.
Mail delivery has been halted at several Lake County post offices due to the evacuations — basically, the post offices within the evacuated areas are not operating at this time. The Lake Co. Sheriff’s Dept. notes:
“Mail delivery has been halted in the evacuated areas of Lake County. Ranch Fire evacuees (Bachelor Valley, Witter Springs, Upper Lake, Nice and Lucerne) can pick up their mail at the Clearlake Post Office, 13417 Lakeshore Drive, Clearlake. River Fire evacuees (Lakeport) can pick up their mail at the Kelseyville Post Office. Photo identification will be required. Regular mail delivery will resume when the evacuated areas become repopulated.”
Lake County CalFresh recipients who have experience “food loss” due to the fires may be eligible for replacement benefits. “Households have ten days from the date of the disaster that destroyed their food to request replacement. To request replacement benefits, call (800) 628-5288 or go to 15975 Anderson Ranch Parkway, Lower Lake, CA 95457, from Mon – Fri, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Or visit www.dss.co.lake.ca.us.
There have been reader reports of price gouging, especially in the various California counties currently suffering through the ongoing wildfires. In a press release today, Attorney General Xavier Bercerra reminded “all Californians that price gouging during a state of emergency is illegal.” Here’s more info from his statement:
I encourage anyone who has been the victim of price gouging, or who has information regarding potential price gouging, to immediately file a complaint through my Office’s website or call (800) 952-5225, or to contact their local police department or sheriff’s office.”
During and after a state of emergency, California law generally prohibits charging a price that exceeds, by more than 10 percent, the price of an item before the declaration of emergency. This law applies to those who sell food, emergency supplies, medical supplies, building materials and gasoline. The law also applies to repair or reconstruction services, emergency cleanup services, transportation, freight and storage services, hotel accommodations and rental housing. Exceptions to this prohibition exist if, for example, the price of labor, goods, or materials has increased for the business.
Violators of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in a one-year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violators are also subject to civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief and mandatory restitution. The Attorney General and local district attorneys can enforce the statute.
Here’s the mid-day video report from CalFire:
UPDATE 1:15 p.m. — Despite the ongoing rumors, there are no scheduled electrical outages happening in Ukiah today, according to a Nixle announcement sent by Ukiah Police at 1:03 p.m. PG&E spokespersons have also confirmed that there are currently no planned outages by PG&E happening in Mendocino county today. According to PG&E spokesperson Jennifer Robison, who spoke with The Mendocino Voice just after 12 p.m., “There are no planned shut-offs for Mendocino or Lake counties.” The Sheriff’s Office has also noted on Facebook that there are no planned outages.
Ukiah Police Department also reminds people to use 911 for emergencies only. For information regarding evacuations and the fires check the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Facebook page or call the Mendocino County EOC Call Center 707-467-6428.
For more information about the previous outages that occurred yesterday and Saturday evening, as well as what to expect in a PG&E planned “public safety” power shutoff, see our earlier article on the outages.
Willow Anderson from Adventist Health Ukiah Valley emphasized that the hospital remains equipped with an backup electrical system, and that staff are prepared in the case of any additional outages.
UPDATE 12:25 p.m. — A little bit of good news in Mendocino, some areas affected by the River Fire are being repopulated now, likely because the fire has now shifted east into Lake County. Here is a map, and a link to the PDF:
Here is the text for the Hopland from a tweet with the MCSO:
— CAL FIRE Mendocino (@CALFIRE_MEU) July 30, 2018
But on the bad news end, the Lake Co., jail has been evacuated:
On July 29th, 2018 the Lake County Sheriff’s Office evacuated the Lake County Jail related to the River/Ranch fires. This was done with the assistance of CDCR, Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office. 285 inmates were moved and are being housed in Alameda County. Lake County Correctional and Medical Staff are being utilized in Alameda County to care and oversee the inmates from Lake County. There are currently no accommodations for visitation of Lake County inmates in Alameda County.
UPDATE 11:30 a.m. — We have contacted PG&E and confirmed that there is NO plan to preform a public-safety outage today in Mendocino or Lake. Again, according to PG&E spokesperson Jennifer Robison, “There are no planned shut-offs for Mendocino or Lake counties.”
In the past few hours a rumor has circulated through the county that another outage was scheduled for this afternoon, but these rumors were false. Indeed, none of the outages in the past few days have been planned. For more about the outages, their cause, and their repair, check out our article here.
UPDATE 10:38 a.m. — Here is a a message from the LCSD:
The Sheriff’s Office would like to ask that if you are seeking information related to the fires that you do not contact our Central Dispatch. They are very busy and inundated dealing with emergency calls. The dispatch center is busy on a normal day and with the current extra law enforcement personnel in the area conducting patrols, they are extremely taxed. If you have an emergency call 911for assistance. If you need information regarding the fires you can contact the Emergency Operations Center at 707-263-3450. Keep in mind that the EOC is also very busy.
We would urge people to seek information from other sources. You can find information at the Sheriff’s Office/Office of Emergency Services Facebook pages, and local news outlets. The Calfire website will have the most up to date fire information and the Caltrans website will have information related to state highways.
All road closures and evacuation areas are still in effect. You will not be able to travel into the evacuated areas. If there are any changes with road closures or evacuation areas, the information will be updated through Nixle, LakeCoAlerts, and posted on the Sheriff’s Office/OES Facebook pages. It may appear early in the day that the fire activity has lessened, but we have seen as the day progresses the fire activity increases.
And a video from Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin:
Also if you are a CalFresh recipient in Lake Co. here’s some info:
If you are a current CalFresh recipient who has experienced food loss due to the Mendocino Complex Fires, including the Ranch and River Fires, the Lake County Department of Social Services (LCDSS) may be able to replace a portion of your CalFresh benefits. Households have ten days from the date of the disaster that destroyed their food to request replacement. To request replacement benefits, please contact us:
Toll Free Phone: 1 (800) 628-5288
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
MENDOCINO Co., 7/30/18 — Day four of the Mendocino Complex fires has begun, and nature continues to send hot, dry weather and steady winds. The fires almost doubled in size from last night’s update — according to CalFire, as of 7 a.m. the Ranch Fire, burning north of Hwy. 20 between Potter Valley and Upper Lake, has grown to 35,076 acres and the River Fire, which began between Talmage and Hopland, east of Old River Rd., has burned far into Lake County, where it is still menacing Lakeport, and stands at 20,911 acres.
Both fires are listed as having 5% containment, same as yesterday. So far six residences have been destroyed, but thousands more are imperiled.
State Route 20 remains closed from Potter Valley Rd. to Hwy. 29, and Hwy. 175 remains closed from Hopland to Lakeport.
The evacuations from yesterday remain in effect this morning, and are fairly numerous. They are listed in the CalFire fact-sheet below — but basically if you got evacuated, you’re still evacuated.
In Potter Valley Burris Lane, and Pine Ave. have been evacuated and close. As of last night there were CHP and MCOS officers posted at the beginning of Mid Mountain Rd., keeping people from going up the road, and people were evacuating that area, but it wasn’t clear that it had officially been placed under evacuation. Areas to the south of Pottery Valley are also evacuated. For more details scroll down to the fact-sheet or yesterday’s minute by minute reporting.
The entirety of western Lake County was evacuated yesterday, including the communities of Lakeport, Nice and Upper Lake, and this remains the case. Kelseyville and Finely are under an evacuation warning. Kelseyville is also the location of evacuation centered (which are listed in the fact-sheet below). The fact that the evacuation centers themselves are under an evacuation advisory speaks to the ferocity and scale of these fires.
Indeed, the fires have continually been referred to as erratic, and fire fighting personnel have spoken of the difficulties presented by this weather and this unprecedented fire season. Tens of fires have broken out across the state, stretching the resources of local and state agencies thin. Contractors and firefighters alike have repeatedly emphasized to us that they are stretched thin, and especially in the earlier days of the fire, air controllers on the scanner could be heard repeatedly asking for more air resources that came late or did not come.
Yesterday saw new air resources devoted to the fire with the presence of some “very large air tankers” (VLATs). A DC-10 tanker was spotted, and one reliable source said they saw a c-130 make several drops on the outskirts of Lakeport.
Overnight the Ranch Fire continued to burn intensely. The scope of the fire is tremendous. Beginning at near Potter Valley Rd. fire is visible along several ridges north of Hwy. 20 all the way to the junction with the 29, a stretch of road about 15 miles long. About 3.5 miles to about 6 miles east of Potter Valley Rd. the fire jumped the 20 and burned some acres to the south, as of 10 p.m some guard rails were still slowly smoldering. At that same time, the fire was burning hot and throwing up a large smoke plume from behind the ridge to the north of the highway.
Some private contractors on the scene yesterday afternoon described conditions in the interior of the area burning. They spoke of seeing valleys swept up with fire in a matter of minutes. One man noted that the weather forecasts had called for increased wind at 1 p.m. yesterday, and that at 12:52 p.m. he saw exactly that — a breeze picked up, and cleared out the smoke long enough for the men to see the valley they were working above. Then just as quick, the breeze stoked the fire and it began to throw up big smoke plumes.
It’s useful to point out, for those unfamiliar with large fires, that a wildfire does not burn everywhere with its perimeter at once. The fire moves through these dry grasslands and forests with shifting conditions and wind patterns. Sometimes it burns around an area, then gets hot and burns through another quickly. Faced with this intense weather and changing conditions, firefighters make strategic choices in how they fight. Huge efforts are made to protect life and property, with aircraft retardant drops, large firebreaks created by bulldozers, and firefighting strike teams facing the fires directly. In less populated places firefighters try to create containment lines and sometimes back burns to keep the fire from expanding, while allowing it to continue burning within this penned off area.
These complexities cannot be captured in the single metric of containment percentage. So while the containment of both fires stayed at 5% for two days, the fires have more than doubled in size. Yet, even as they burned hot into forest and grassland, firefighters made a hard stand to keep the fires from encroaching into densely populated areas of Lakeport and Upper Lake. As of this morning those lines are holding and those communities remained intact and protected, for now.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publishes data from satellite imagery, which several websites then take and turn into maps of the various fires across the western U.S., this is a pretty good one created by the San Francisco Chronicle is a good one, here is another that is using the same an similar data that might be clearer. As of publication time their map had been updated at 6:24 a.m., but as satellites pass overhead it will continue to be updated.
Here is the sheet. (Quick note, this is a PDF, if you mouse over it you’ll see some controls, including arrows in the lower left corner, those arrows let you go to the next page.):Incident Update 7.30
Here is our coverage from yesterday:
Mendocino has also been wracked by a series of power outages, here is our reporting on that:
Adrian Fernandez Baumann, [email protected]