Willie Fire Races Over Three Miles to the East

Willie Fire

The Willie Fire about 4 p .m. [Photo by Brandon Rowland ]

A little-known fire in the Ruth Complex burning east of Island Mt. and south of Ruth Lake raced east over the last two days consuming about three and a half miles of wildland, according to Dan Dill, District Ranger for the Mad River area of the Six Rivers National Forest. The Willie Fire began from a lightning strike during the storms that pummelled Northern California at the beginning of the week.

At first, the fire which began east of the North Fork of the Eel River and east of the Willie Hoaglin Place grew slowly. Attention centered on containing and extinguishing the 22 other fires in this district started by the thousands of lightning strikes. But then, between yesterday and today, the fire exploded from 40 acres to 1500 acres and began running due east to Raglan Flat where the head of the fire burns this evening, Dill explained.

Smoke from the Willie Fire

Smoke from the Willie Fire as seen from Island Mountain about 1:30 p.m. today. A comparison with the top photo taken about four shows that the smoke column grew exponentially. [Photo by Chris Darr]

The fire is burning mostly in grass and, consequently, moving fast. Dill said that the crews are trying to extinguish the quick moving blaze. “We’re in full suppression mode,” he said. “[But] it is resistant to suppression.”

Speaking of the number of lightning fires started earlier this week already extinguished by his forestry crews, Dill said, “I am so proud of my firefighters. They are impressive.” Of the entire Ruth Complex which has now consumed 3500 acres, only three of the fires are still burning. The others have all been extinguished. The Secret Fire is still burning but is contained. Only the Dutchman and the Willie are uncontained. The Dutchman is burning slowly but the Willie is moving quickly through grass towards the east.

The speed and size of the latter fire prompted Dill to request assistance. The Nor Cal Management Team Five took command at 6 p.m. of the entire Ruth Complex. If the fire continues towards the east, Dill said, it won’t encounter many structures. However, “if it turns and goes north [towards Ruth Lake]….that will be problematic…”

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11 comments

  • The Apache Warrior

    Is this OUR OWN Dan (Danny) Dill from the Scotia and Palco Days??? If so, HELLO Danny and glad to see you doing well. Stay Safe.

  • Pic of the Willie fire taken from the ridge kind of above the Dutchman fire (about 1/2 mile south of where it hit the top of the ridge) about 4:30 today. Got lots of pics and some video of it running along the top of the ridge, we could clearly see trees torching and flaming from approx 6 miles away as it progressed up the ridge.

  • Mountain Lion Lady

    Taken from the front porch this afternoon.

  • It’s not “National Forest Service” its the US Forest Service. And also not “forestry” crews fighting the fire, that is state Calfire…The USFS is federal and not called ” forestry” crews as are the state crews..

    • It is the US Forest Service and it is Six Rivers National Forest. I conflated the two and have now corrected it. But, while Cal Fire is assisting in the firefight, I believe Dill was specifically referring to members of the US Forest Service. I sent him an email requesting clarification.

      • He confirmed that while there is “a small amount of Calfire here assisting us on Federal Lands” the firefighters he was referring to were forestry technicians.

  • It’s just a couple miles from my parents

  • What the heck is a forestry technician?

    • “The actual job title for firefighter positions are “Forestry Aid and Forestry Technicians”.

      Duties: Serves on a crew performing duties in fire suppression and/or fire prevention. Performs prescribed burning
      duties in order to reduce fuel hazards and disease, while protecting wildlife. Assists fire dispatch by operating
      radios, telephones, and other equipment to exchange information for fire weather information or other suppression
      related activities. Lays fire hose in the use of water to control fire. Moves dirt, chops brush, and fells small trees to
      build fire line using various hand tools such as an axe, shovel, Pulaski, and McLeod to control spreading wildland
      fire and/or to prepare lines prior to controlled burning. Chops, carries, and piles logging slash. Searches out and
      extinguishes burning materials. Patrols fire line to locate and extinguish sparks, flare-ups, and hot spots that may
      threaten loss of control of the fire. Cleans, reconditions, and stores fire tools and equipment. When not engaged in
      fire suppression or training activities, Forestry Technicians perform basic duties in support of fire, timber,
      silviculture, recreation, wilderness, or research programs, projects, or activities. These duties may include road,
      trail, station, recreational facilities maintenance, visitor contacts and other duties as assigned.” https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5278311.pdf

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