[UPDATE 3:06 p.m.] The Two Fiery Claws of the Mendocino Complex Squeeze Clear Lake and Its Communities (Maps, Photos)


"About 1 a.m. conditions were just right along SR 175 in Lake County to set backfires to help control the River Fire,"

“About 1 a.m. conditions were just right along SR 175 in Lake County to set backfires to help control the River Fire,” according to Caltrans District 1 which posted this photo.

The two fires forming the Mendocino Complex are reaching like flaming claws for the west end of Clear Lake and all the communities that nestle against its shores. The Ranch and the River which both started July 27 within hours of each other together have spread over around 50,000 acres. Cal Fire called the overnight behavior “extreme” and said “[w]eather conditions continue to challenge firefighters as hot, dry and windy conditions persist.”

Over 10,000 structures are threatened.

Overview of what the two fires of the Mendocino Complex looked like around midnight last night. (See below for a bigger more detailed version.)

The Ranch Fire, which started north of Hwy 20 yesterday, jumped it forcing the closure of this popular east/west route. Yesterday, it pushed almost five miles eastward towards Upper Lake. It also grew substantially to the south and north. It is estimated to be 35,076 acres and only 5% contained.

The River Fire, at 20,911 acres and only 5% containment, ran almost four miles east yesterday into Lake County. By midnight, when the heat mapping was done, it had pushed to within a mile of State Route 29. It had grown about a mile to the north in its widest spot. However, there was no new growth to the west.

For more on evacuations and road conditions for Monday morning go here.

This morning, the Lake County Sheriff Brian Martin posted this informative video.

The Plan:

For the Ranch Fire, crews will be struggling to keep the flames from extending east into the communities around Clear Lake. They also want to keep it out of Potter Valley. The attempt to keep the fire south of Burris Lane yesterday didn’t succeed so now they will have to find a new point to hold.

For the River Fire, crews will try to keep the fire from extending east into Lakeport and Finley. State Route 29 will be a place they will use to form a line to stop the fire. They will continue to try and keep the fire north of State Route 175.

The Weather:

Temperatures are expected to soar over 100 again today and the humidity is expected to be low again today.

The Roads:

Last evening the Ranch Fire burning down to SR 20 at Blues Lakes.

Last evening the Ranch Fire burning down to SR 20 at Blues Lakes” according to Caltrans District 1’s Facebook page.

Hwy 20 and 175 are closed with no estimated time of reopening. Many smaller roads are closed also. Check Cal Fire for the latest but be aware that conditions are changing fast on the frontlines.


  • Ranch Operations Map –to see details either zoom or click on the map and download a pdf.
Ranch Operations Map 30th

Ranch Operations Map

  • River Operations Map –to see details either zoom or click on the map and download a pdf.

    River Operations Map 30

    River Operations Map

  • KMZ Map–Zoom for detail or for 3D imagery, click on the map and download a file that connects with your Google Earth program.
    Mendocino Complex

    Mendocino Complex

UPDATE 12:44 p.m.: Residents affected by the River Fire on the west side are being allowed back in. Here’s the information on who is affected:

Hopland Repop 7.30

Here is the evacuation map.


UPDATE 3:06 p.m.Kelseyville and Finley Area Ordered to Immediately Evacuate as River Fire Rushes Southeast

Earlier Chapters:



  • Any word on how these fires started?

    • People are idiots. That’s how these fires start. Now with ever changing “ apocalyptic “ weather patterns this will be the new norm. Why? You say? Because people are idiots.we are destroying the earth at an alarming rate and people wonder why shit like this happens. Mother Nature always bats last…… but it’s always a home run!

      • I was told this by a botanical archaologist. Before 1850’s, or before the explorers, the fir trees were kept in check by the native peoples, who killed every fir tree they could. When the natives were taken from their lands, the practice stopped, and the infestation of the fir began. These trees, when they get big, are taking up hundreds of gallons of water a day. Over time, this takes the moisture from the rest of the plants, causing them to be dryer than normal, which means they burn hotter and faster. Logging these forests is one way to keep the fire danger down, and logging also helped fund the schools and roads. The firs are an infestation that is bad for the animals and people because they choke out the oaks, and no oaks, no acorns, no food. the native people used the acorn as a staple, as did the deer and bears, and other critters. Before 1850’s, this area looked and was very different, with lots more open spaces, and a lot less fir trees. Which meant there was a lot more food for the critters, and a much better ecosystem. We really need to log, and thin and clear cut these forest. I have clear cut my land, and am more fire safe. I saw in the Carr fire, that the homes with no trees or vegetation did not burn so much as those surrounded by growth. And if you remove the big trees from around a spring, the spring does a lot better. One can also get a 300ft exemption to clear cut around your home, this is what I did, and feel a lot safer.

    • Holy cow, those were two super long comments for neither of them to answer the single question asked, of which there is only one factual answer. So weird!! As far as I know they haven’t figured out the cause on these two fires yet.

      • They are comments, and you must glean from them whatever you can.

        Certainly in the 40 years that I have lived in Humboldt, I have seen a lot of meadows completely filled in with dog hair Douglas-fir patches, some of which have grown into substantial stands.

  • Kym,
    Thank you for this compilation of information. It’s what I really want, instead of shock and pathos.

  • Praying the hard working fire fighters can get a handle on these two big fires, I am also wondering how these fires were started. Please be safe everyone.

  • I don’t understand why the Air Force can’t be utilized to help squash these fires, how many Idle huge tankers do we have just sitting at Air Force bases around this country? Just a couple years ago the Air Force was saying they had too many c-130s at 350 plus, imagine if they put just 50 c-130s on this fire.

    • Lake County Not So Bad

      I can answer that. All those Air Force tankers, they’re designed to dispense jet fuel.

      • I was talking about the c-130s not the kc-135. The C-130 is a cargo plane that are often used or converted to tankers and use by many fire Department to drop fire retardant.

    • they call out national guard when too many fires and fire fighters stretched thin . they use choppers and cargo planes loaded with retardant tanks and troops for mop up areas .
      not sure if any deployed yet

      • They are on the Carr Fire.

      • Yes, and the cargo planes that they use are generally c-130s with a modular system they load in the back specially designed to drop fire retardant. So instead of the what?two or three planes the National Guard will let them use, why doesn’t the u.s. Air Force bring in say 50.

    • Earlier this Summer, Sweden dropped 500lb bombs to stop the spread of a forest fire and it worked.
      They set the bombs to go off before they hit the ground, depriving the fire of oxygen.
      Other countries have used fuel-air- explosives(bombs), to accomplish the same thing.

    • I agree, huge amounts of money spent on our military and they’re not asked to help with domestic disaster? Too busy with protracted foreign invasion? Maybe we should tell them theirs oil to be had if they help..
      I know the national guard is on it but I’ll bet the army could dig some serious fire breaks with those tanks..

    • I’m sorry, this was actually a rhetorical question. I know exactly why the military doesn’t, it’s because they’re too busy still considering whether they should or not lol . The thing was just a couple years ago the Air Force was complaining about having too many c-130s and wanted to cut funding to maintain the fleet. Why don’t they utilize those extra c-130s to help “civilian” fight fires? it’s because of bureaucracy, and crony capitalism, both symptoms of an over bloated government with too much control!


  • They may have the planes, but not the retardent tanks for those for those planes, nor the trained pilots. Just because they can fly in combat or refuel combat aircraft, thats a completely different skill set, and you would just get good people killed. I think it equate to putting a 16 year old kid that has a drivers license behind the wheel of a semi. He may get there, but is it worth the chance?

    • They use c-130s all the time for low-level supply drops, how could hitting a fire with fire retardant be any harder than that ?

  • The real question then might be:

  • My husband is a retired Airforce captain, and he said that C-130s are cargo planes and are not equipped to dispense fire retardant. If a military organization was employed, it would be the National Guard that would be called to duty by the Governor. He thinks some of the C-130s could be modified to dispense fire retardants, but then they could not be used as cargo plans to carry relief supplies for natural disasters. He wonders whether some of the bone yard C-130s could be refurbished for fire fighting purposes. It seems like we are going to have to ramp up fire-fighting organizations and their equipment, because this is a new era of fire fighting.

  • took this on hwy 20 a couple hours before it was closed . its about 2 miles east of potter valley turnoff .

  • unbridled philistine

    Sure is getting ugly with fire around here. Glad Redwoods are fire resistant. Counting our blessings.

  • That’s going to be one fire very soon…

  • Kym, there’s talk that these fires were started intentionally. Have you heard anything from LE that would corroborate that?

  • Dozer driver said some idiot was pounding fence stakes with a sledge hammer. I’ve seen sparks fly from a horse’s shoe. I’m evacuated from Mid Mountain, and it’s intense, and I am so very grateful for RHBB coverage. Thanks.

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