This is a developing situation and information may change. We’ll update this article as more information becomes available. The most recent information will be updated at the top of the article, with the earlier reports below.
UPDATE 2/26/20 — Here is our latest from today:
UPDATE 9:40 p.m. — We’ll update again in the morning when the situation becomes more clear. However, by sunset the smoke from the fire had diminished drastically.
Here are a couple pictures:
UPDATE 4:50 p.m. — The Baseball Fire has grown to 60 acres since sparking up early this afternoon, and is 5% contained. Light winds persist with temperatures in the 70s, and of course extremely dry conditions.
The fire appears to have been started by a, “previous pile burning on the Baseball prescribed fire project,” according to the USFS. Forest Service spokesperson, Punky Moore clarified that the burn pile was from an earlier prescribed burning project that ended sometime in late January. This pile may have been a slash pile that smoldered for some time before reigniting today with the extremely dry conditions, warm weather and winds.
Access to the fire is being made via Forest Road 7, also known locally as Mendocino Pass Road, out of Covelo. The Forest Service has 55 personel on the fire, including a helicopter, three engines and one water tender, while Cal Fire has sent two hand crews and an engine. It’s not entirely clear if the 55 person count includes Cal Fire personel or not.
Here is the latest update from the Forest Service:
WILLOWS, Calif., Feb. 25, 2020 – The Baseball wildfire on the Covelo Ranger District of the Mendocino National Forest has grown to approximately 60 acres and is five percent contained. It has been determined that the fire started from previous pile burning on the Baseball prescribed fire project. The Baseball Fire is located approximately 15 miles southeast of Covelo near Atchison campground.
About 55 personnel are assigned to the incident including one crew, three engines, one water tender and a helicopter. An additional crew has been ordered. Conditions reported at the fire are light wind, 70 degrees and a low to moderate rate of spread.
There are no immediate threats to property or structures. More information will be provided as it becomes available.USFS
UPDATE 4:15 p.m. — Cal Fire has sent one engine and two hand crews to the fire. Repeated calls for information have been met with no response from the Forest Service.
Satellite date has confirmed that the smoke visible in Willits and Laytonville is indeed smoke drifting west-southwest from the Baseball Fire. The fire is not yet listed on the federal government’s incident webpage inciweb.nwcg.gov, as of the time of this update.
WILLITS, 2/25/20 — Amidst this incredibly dry winter, with February promising to be the direst in Northern California records, a wildfire has broken out about 15 miles east-southeast of Covelo. The fire is burning in the Mendocino National Forest’s Covelo Ranger District, and started at about noon today. The fire has reached 40 acres, with no containment listed, but it should be noted that this fire is extremely remote and that no structures or people are threatened.
The fire is burning a few miles south of Forest Road 7, which is also called in some places Mendocino Pass Rd. and is a continuation of SR-162. It appears to be burning right on, or very near, the Glenn-Mendocino county line and we have no yet confirmed which county it’s technically in. Cal Fire’s Mendocino Unit was not conducting any controlled burns today, and it appears that the large smoke plume that has drifted west towards Laytonville and Willits is indeed from this fire. Cal Fire gives the lat-long of the fire as: 39.75638899, -122.94111111, for any map nerds out there.
The United States Forest Service is the lead agency on this fire and Cal Fire is assisting. While wildfires this early in the year are not unheard of, there has been more fire activity this winter than in other recent years, and the extreme dryness of the landscape, as well as unseasonably warm weather, have heightened the fire risk and portend dangerous season ahead.
Here is the notice from the Mendocino National Service.
WILLOWS, Calif., Feb. 25, 2020 – The Baseball wildfire started at noon Tuesday, Feb. 25 on the Covelo Ranger District of the Mendocino National Forest. It is located approximately 15 miles southeast of Covelo and is estimated at 40 acres. Personnel have arrived at the incident and additional resources have been ordered to help contain the fire. There is a light wind, temps in the mid-70s and a low to moderate rate of spreadUSFS
reported at the fire. There are no immediate threats to property or structures. More information will be provided as it becomes available.