[UPDATE Monday:] Vegetation Fire Forces Evacuations Near Blue Lake

Fire at BLue Lake

Fire burning near the town of Blue Lake. [Photo provided by Anna Brown]

About 4:40 p.m. a fire started near the town of Blue Lake. Residents are being evacuated. A Cal Fire helicopter is dumping water on the flames. The multiple agencies responding to the blaze are staging at the Casino.

Today is a Red Flag, high fire danger day due to winds and dry weather.

UPDATE 5:32 p.m.: Another photo by Anna Brown. She tells us, “They are dumping water fr[om a] helicopter and fire retardant fr[om a] airplane.” In addition, she said, “Power went out.”

Scanner traffic indicates that power lines are down.

Fire in BLue lake
UPDATE 5:35 p.m.: Just under 1900 customers are now without power according to PG&E.

UPDATE 5:37 p.m.: The CHP indicates the red marker is close to where the fire was seen.


UPDATE 6:05 p.m.:

The Monterey Pines where a spot fire started.

The Monterey Pines where a spot fire started.
[Photo by Mark Nelson]

Mark Nelson who lives on the south side of 299 tells us that the fire started on the north side of 299 but spot fires jumped the freeway and nearly burned down his home. “I heard there was a fire on the scanner,” he said. “I looked up and saw smoke. [My wife and I] got the cats in the car. This thing [the fire] you could hear it coming. There is nothing like that sound.”

A spot fire started in Nelson’s backyard. “My wife evacuated to the casino with the cats. It is important to have their carriers ready.”

Nelson continued, “Luckily, neighbors began showing up to help…At least five showed up here to see what they could do. I have no idea who they were.” Nelson’s spot fire was put out. “A guy showed up at my place with a chainsaw. He asked if I had any fuel. I gave him some…We looked to the left at my neighbor’s house about 20 feet from me. Flames were ripping up their Monterey Pine. We took down the fence [between Nelson’s house and his neighbor’s]. The backside of the house was going…We got two water hoses on it and shovels. All it did was char.”

Nelson said, “There is still a fire going…We got four planes and a helicopter in the area…” He complimented the helicopter pilot dropping water and the plane pilots dropping retardant, “The guys have been extremely accurate with their drops…” However, the fire is still going.

“I’m walking my roof now watching for spot fires,” Nelson said. “Let us give a lot of credit to the neighbors who came running up.”

UPDATE 6:08 p.m.: Hwy 299 is closed on either side of the fire. “The freeway is closed from Blue Lake exit to the scales,” according to one reader.

UPDATE 6:13 p.m.: The resident, Mark Nelson, who helped put out the spot fires near his home. Just contacted us to say he had to put out another.

UPDATE 6:16 p.m.: Video by reporter Bobby Kroeker:

UPDATE 6:25 p.m.: Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services tweeted, “Mandatory evacuation order for fire north of 299 at Blue Lake. Greenhill Ln, Elgar Rd, BL Blvd, Farnsworth. 299 eastbound reported closed.”

UPDATE 6:26 p.m.: Reporter Bobby Kroeker videos a resident who jumped in to help.

UPDATE 6:28 p.m.: Cal Fire reports that the fire was 30 acres as of 6:20pm…HWY 299 shut down both directions; structure threat mitigated, forward progress stopped, one structure destroyed….Agencies Responding: Blue Lake Fire, CAL FIRE, Arcata Fire, Fieldbrook, Humboldt Bay Fire, Westhaven, Loleta, Westhaven and multiple local government departments covering stations”

UPDATE 6:33 p.m.:
Video of plane dropping retardant by Bobby Kroeker.

UPDATE 6:37 p.m.: Inmate crews arrive.

UPDATE 6:48 p.m.: According to the CHP Traffic Incident Information Page, efforts are underway to reopen 299. The site reports that the current plan is to keep the westbound lane closed and split the eastbound lanes so that traffic can use them to move both directions.

UPDATE 6:52 p.m.: Cal Fire sends out this aerial photo.

Cal Fire photo from the air.

Cal Fire photo from the air.

UPDATE 8:25 p.m.: Humboldt Office of Emergency Services posted on Facebook, “Evacuated residents can return to their homes. Hwy 299 remains closed and the evacuated area is open to residents only at this time.”

UPDATE 10:02 p.m.: The eastbound lanes of Hwy 299 are being split and one is now being used for westbound traffic.

UPDATE Monday: Cal Fire is now reporting no structures were destroyed. The fire has burned 20 acres and is 50% contained.

  • Laytonville Rock
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18 comments

  • 299 is closed at weigh station and blue lake casino turn off. Traffic directed thru blue lake

  • There are now 2 planes and 2 jets along with a helio dumping on this

  • Eldon G. Whitehead

    And why would they be using jets on a fire like this? Better look again. Should be a couple of Borate Bombers dropping retardant on the flames and a helicopter dropping water from the undersling bucket. Might even be 3 borate bombers.

  • There are 5 air support 4 planes and 1 helicopter

  • Well there was 2 jets and 2 prop planes and a helio several folks saw the same

  • Randal MacKendrick

    Prop driven planes are on the way out.

  • The closest jet airtankers are the DC-10’s at Mc Clellan in Sacramento unless they had moved up to Redding. Rohnerville has 1 small S-2t turboprop, Redding and Medford have large prop tankers..dc6, dc-8, or P2

  • They no longer use borate as a retardant. Haven’t in this decade. Also they will always have an “air attack ” smaller plane directing the air resources… an air traffic controller for rhe incident if you like. Air attack 120 out of rohnerville. They are actually called air tankers…. Tanker 94 Tanker 95 Tanker 96 and i heard a tanker i didn’t recognize returning to McClellan air force base so it very well could have been a jet air tanker. Maybe the DC10 VLAT very large air tanker. Im not sure i didnt actually see it. But i will say there are people at North Ops who have a lot more experience with resource allocation for fires than you do Eldon and they are making those decisions for us.

  • The jets are bae 146s 4 engine jets and they are out of Redding and other bases

  • I want to give a huge shout out to Cal Fire. I ran up Marks driveway when I saw the fire jump. The Monterey pines were trying to go fast….needles on the metal roof were burning and I thought for sure we were going to lose his neighbors house. Cal Fire chopper crew saw us struggling with those trees and made precise drops that surely saved that house.

    Great works guys and thanks for all you do.

  • Thanks to all who worked to put out the fire.

  • Thank you all

  • Some shots from the fire

  • Last one

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