Update 8/15/21 — Thanks to fire fighters continue to work overnight, the Bell Fire was 50% contained this morning, according to the Cal Fire morning incident report. Fire crews around Mendocino County also responded to multiple other wildfires during the night, including a wildfire north of Gualala, in the area of Big Gulch Road and Highway 1 shortly after midnight, and another fire in the vicinity of 5570 Branscomb Lane near Laytonville. The sheriff’s office sent out Nixle alerts for both fires to alert residents that fire fighters and law enforcement was in the area.
According to an update the South Coast Fire Protection District, the fire north of Gualala was around 1/10th of an acre, and crews from South Coast, North Sonoma Coast, and Redwood Coast fire departments responded.
Update 9:25 p.m. — The evacuation warning has now been lifted for the Bell Fire, and all road closures have re-opened. Fire crews will remain on the scene overnight to monitor hot spots and continue with mop up and containment, so MCSO has asked that drivers and residents in the area are asked to continue to use caution.
Update 6:05 p.m. — The sheriff’s office has lifted the evacuation order in place for the Bell Fire, which means that residents can return to their homes. An evacuation warning remains in place.
Update 5:55 p.m. — Forward progress has been stopped on the Bell Fire, according to Cal Fire Mendocino. A shelter for evacuees has been set up at Harwood Hall in Laytonville, located at 44400 Willis Ave. People arriving at the shelter are asked to remain in their cars in order to check in as part of COVID-19 public safety protocols in place due to the recent increase in positive cases.
Update 5:25 p.m. — Bell Springs Road will be closed to traffic at Highway 101 and at Alderpoint Road to allow fire fighters to access the Bell Fire. Please avoid the area is possible.
Update 4:50 p.m. — Cal Fire is making progress on the Bell Fire, which remains around 50 acres in size, although crews are facing some challenges due to the difficult terrain, according to a social media post from Cal Fire Mendocino Unit Chief George Gonzalez. The fire is burning primarily in oak woodlands and timber, with some steep hills, and remains 0% contained, with an air response underway as well as crews on the ground. Deputies continue to contact residents of the area directly to alert residents of the evacuation order currently in place.
Arrangements are currently underway to establish a shelter for evacuees, and additional details will be shared on mendoready.org and via MCSO’s social media.
Update 3:50 p.m. — Traffic will be restricted to fire personnel and other emergency responders on Bell Springs Road in order to allow fires crews to respond to the Bell Fire. The fire is now being called the “Bell Incident” andCal Fire will be updating information about the fire at this page.
According to the initial incident information from Cal Fire, the size of the fire was estimated at about 15 acres at 3:22 p.m. However, scanner traffic has put estimates of the fire size between 30 and 50 acres, with a moderate rate of spread.
Update 3:15 p.m. — The evacuation warnings have been upgraded to evacuation orders, which mean that residents should leave the area immediately. “All surrounding residents of near the top of the hill to 58900 block of North Highway 101 are instructed to safely evacuate the area,” according to the latest alert from the sheriff’s office. The sheriff’s office is also using high-low sirens to alert residents in the area of the evacuation warning (learn more about those sirens here).
The fire is pushing towards the northeast, and according to scanner reports, is about two to three miles to the southwest of the Humboldt County line.
Two individuals were stopped at the intersection of Bell Springs Road and Highway 101 earlier, and had been running away from the area. According to scanner traffic, they may have fled on foot from a vehicle containing between 500 – 1000 pounds of cannabis, but were detained by a nearby property owner. The individuals have not been determined to have any connection to the current fire.
Update 2:50 p.m. — The Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation warning for residents in the vicinity of the Bell Fire. A warning is means that residents should prepare to leave the area, and use situational awareness to leave if conditions change and become unsafe. The fire is primarily burning in heavy timber, but current wind conditions indicate that there is some potential for the fire to spread west.
Update 2:45 p.m. — The Bell Fire has reached 50 acres in size, and according to scanner traffic, MCSO is planning to issue an evacuation warning will be issued for the area in the vicinity of Foster Creek Road and Bell Springs Road. These warnings typically go out by Nixle alerts, as well as via the Sheriff’s Office social media, and can also be found at mendoready.org.
Update 2:25 p.m. — The fire on Twin Pines Road has been controlled, but the Bell Fire continues to grow at a moderate rate of spread, and resources continue to be sent to that fire. Residents are being asked to maintain situation awareness and some reverse 911 warnings may be sent out.
MENDOCINO Co., 8/14/21 — Fire crews are responding a wildfire, being called the “Bell Incident,” in the vicinity of Bell Springs Road and Foster Creek Road in the Laytonville area, as well as another fire in the vicinity of the Twin Pines Road south of Laytonville. Several structures are reported to be threatened according to scanner traffic.
Fire crews and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office are currently on the scene, and an air response is under way. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has asked people in the area to maintain situational awareness in case the fire continues to grow and conditions become unsafe.
The smaller fire at Twin Pines Road is an excavator that does not currently seem to be spreading significantly into the surrounding vegetation; fire fighters are on the scene and expect the fire to be controlled soon.
We’ll update as more information becomes available.
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.