[UPDATE Monday:] Vegetation Fire Forces Evacuations Near Blue Lake
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.
UPDATE 5:37 p.m.: The CHP indicates the red marker is close to where the fire was seen.
UPDATE 6:05 p.m.:
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.
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.