[UPDATE 8 p.m.: New Evacuation Advisory into Glenn County] Mendocino Complex Grew Around 50,000 Acres Yesterday [Maps, Photos]


A supertanker begins a fire retardant drop on The River Fire near Scott’s Valley Road in Lake County California on Friday. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

Yesterday, the Mendocino Complex jumped to 201,471 acres. It is 34% contained–most of that on the River Fire. Both fires continue to grow though.

…*The “[n]orthern portion of the River fire is continuing to burn towards Cow Mountain and Scotts Valley Rd,” according to Cal Fire.

“Last night, there was poor relative humidity recovery from the day and both fires continued to remain active overnight,” Cal Fire reported this morning. “The Northwest portion of the Ranch Fire will progress further into the Mendocino National Forest and continue to establish itself in the drainages south of Lake Pillsbury and to the east of the current fire perimeter.”

Video of the Ranch Fire below shows some of the scope of this massive fire that is pushing towards the Sacramento Valley.

Scenes from the Fire by Mark McKenna:

The River Fire crests a hill in Scott's Valley in Lake County California on Friday.

The River Fire crests a hill in Scott’s Valley in Lake County California on Friday. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

Michael Graves' 1923 model T sits ready to go should the evacuation for Nice and Lucerne become mandatory.

Michael Graves’ 1923 model T sat ready to go should the evacuation for Nice and Lucerne become mandatory which it did later in the day.  [Photo by Mark McKenna]

A smoke column from The Ranch Fire rises over a farmhouse in Upper Lake, California as the winds picked up.

A smoke column from The Ranch Fire rises over a farmhouse in Upper Lake, California as the winds picked up. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

A Aero-Flite Inc.CL-215-6B11 plane under contract with Cal Fire approaches Lake Mendocino, where it will skim the surface of the lake to refill with water.

An Aero-Flite Inc.CL-215-6B11 plane under contract with Cal Fire approaches Lake Mendocino. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

The plane touches down on Lake Mendocino, where it will skim the surface of the lake to refill with water. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

A Chinook Helicopter heads to the blaze.

A Chinook Helicopter heads to the blaze. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

A crew from Imperial County California clears brush in preparation for a burn operation in Scott's Valley in Lake County California on Friday.

A crew from Imperial County California clears brush in preparation for a burn operation in Scott’s Valley in Lake County California on Friday. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

The Plan:

Mike Inman, Deputy of Operations for the River Fire on takes a call after strike teams stop flames from progressing in Scott’s Valley in Lake County California on Friday. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

For the third day in a row, the Ranch Fire made a run to the southeast. Flames are now bumping into the scar from June’s Pawnee Fire. (See maps below). The whole northern edge of the fire and a good chunk of the south are uncontained. The fire jumped dozer lines above the down of Lucerne. Firefighters will be busy keeping the flames from heading towards the communities around Clear Lake today.

Snip of Cal FIre Ranch FIre map

The red lines show where the Ranch Fire overran the dark xxx’s showing the dozer lines. There are some fall back lines already in place though.

Again the River Fire, mostly grew northward–pushing towards Hwy 20 and the Ranch Fire about a mile in some areas. The most worrying area is that it pushed hard at dozer lines and may try to make a run at communities on the west side of the lake. But overall containment lines grew.

The Weather:

Gusty west to northwest winds combined with a warm dry airmass will result in locally critical fire weather conditions over eastern Mendocino and northern Lake Counties through Saturday evening.

Gusty west to northwest winds combined with a warm dry airmass will result in locally critical fire weather conditions over eastern Mendocino and northern Lake Counties through Saturday evening. ” [Graphic by the National Weather Service in Eureka]

A Red Flag warning is in effect until tonight. That will make the weather difficult to battle and encourage the fires to expand. The skies will be clear except smoky near burning areas. Temperatures will be slightly cooler than yesterday and humidity will be slightly up. But winds are expected to be stiffer with gusts up to 17 mph in some areas.

Weather conditions should improve for firefighters through this weekend but temperatures will rise again early next week.

The Roads:

State Route 20 just below Blue Lakes. After Ranch Fire in Mendocino Complex

State Route 20 just west of Blue Lakes. Note the charred hills and the smoke rising in the far right of the image. [Photo from Caltrans District 1]

State Routes 20 and 29 are still closed with no estimated time of reopening. State Route 175 reopened yesterday. According to Cal Trans, “The westbound closure of SR 20 in Lake County (or the east side of the closure) is moving from Bartlett Springs Road to SR 53…Residents evacuating the area can still go east to leave the area, but they CANNOT go west towards Upper Lake.”

Many smaller roads are closed, too. Check Cal Fire for the latest but be aware that conditions are changing fast on the frontlines.


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

    Mendocino Complex 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 Heat Map

    Mendocino Complex Heat Map–Note: area in gray is June’s Pawnee Fire footprint.


Redwoods Rural Health Center in Redway is a Pay It Forward donation center. Call and ask first what they are accepting.



UPDATE 1:18 p.m.:

UPDATE 8 p.m.: New evacuation advisory into Glenn County:

The following areas have been issued an Evacuation Advisory:
North of the Glenn County/Colusa County Line, west of County Road 306, south of
County Road 308, east of the Mendocino National Forest Boundary.

*Note: We deleted information that there were 9000 residents evacuated. Though it came from the ONCC, we have come to believe that it is inaccurate. Plus there have been a number of new evacuations today.

Earlier Chapters:



  • Man! Those big jets can paint a hell of a line.

  • Moving into Pawnee footprint. We got burned in the Lodge Fire and I learned a lot. Our burned area is now full of dead trees and even MORE flammable then it was before the fire. Don’t know about Pawnee footprint but yes- previously burned area may be very flammable!

  • Wow! I thought those numbers were a typo on fire.ca.gov this morning or at the least that they had combined the Ranch onto the River numbers!

  • Lake County Not So Bad, well yes now it is.

    Kym and team, thank you so much for all you do. Especially for posting the Operations Map. I like that map. The Public Information map Cal Fire feeds us is a bad joke.

  • I’m north of Hayfork. I take a small drive up in elevation (I’m around 3900′) to 4600′ to view the plumes of the Carr fire.

    Yesterday was the third time I could also see the ranch fire plumes from my position. That’s a biggie.

  • Mannnn poor lake county. Year after year after year… fires rip that county apart. Not just fires but major fires.

    How’s it gonna look in 5 years? Safe enough to raise a family??

    • Once the conversion to desert scrub is complete, it’ll be completely safe. There’ll be way less to burn, then.

      • Lost Croat Outburst

        If rainfall returns to normal, it’ll grow back as fabulous deer and mushroom hunting as the brush and trees return. That’s cold comfort to those who lost everything.

    • Fear of fires wouldn’t be my number one reason to not raise a family in Lake County…

      • Understand what your saying…

        But holy moly. Brush/fuels grow back and burns right after a fire already swept the same area… it’s just out of control. Coupled with the valley heat it doesn’t look like a place where I would wanna raise my family there.

        Good luck to everyone involved. Prayers go out that way

    • maybe… if they let homeowners/homesteaders (not sierra pacific mind you) cut some lumber it will be safe

    • If Lake Co doesn’t change its “air quality” targets, no. In 5 years it’ll be ready for the NEXT holocaust.

  • I was riding my bike on Scott’s Valley road every day just last year and know it well. Very sad to see it burn.

  • River fire will probably merge with the Ranch fire soon. Right now the complex is the 7th largest in Cal history. If it keeps growing as it has been it could become the largest ever. Yesterday crews doing backburns got hit with an unexpected wind change and one crew, delta delta, got surrounded. At least that was scanner traffic reported on #riverfire. I’d hate to be a fire fighter these days.

  • Thank you Kym,

    So glad to go to one place for all the info.
    I’m not at Clear lake but I have 2 properties there.

    You’ve been my go to place since the Wilderness Lodge fires.
    RHB is a blessing!

  • Thanks Kyme, best reporting about the fires, anywhere.

  • Kym , here’s the view from Stonyford,well inside Colusa County @ 2:00 PM
    Folks should not wait for a mandatory evacuation notice to pack and go! !
    This ranch will likely be gone by 2:00 AM

  • Native Historian

    1800’s Lake County Pomo Story Tells of Fire Destroying the Earth. This Fire is the equivalent of the Lake County Pomo Story of earth veing destroyed by fire and the subsequent creation of Clear Lake. I will share this story here: These fires have happened for thousands of years, they are a natural part of our local environment which has shaped our landscape. If natural cycles of fires were maintained we would not see these catastrophic fires we are seeing today. Lets not forget we have sprayed thousands of acres of humidity producing Tan Oaks on the Coast which once contributed to the humidity levels to our interior valleys, this combined with clearcuts have created low humidity and heightened catastrophic fire conditions to dominate inland valleys in normal summer months.
    Here is the Pomo Story of Earth Destroyed by Fire and Creation of Clearlake from the 1800’s.
    THE following is a typical myth 2 of the Porno Indians of Cali-
    fornia, and will serve to show some of the characteristics of Pomo
    mythology. It will be noted that this particular myth is a com-
    posite consisting of six elements or separate, though logically con-
    nected, ideas : Coyote as a trickster, and the miraculous birth of
    his children ; the destruction of the world by fire; the creation by
    Coyote of Clear Lake; the creation by Coyote of human beings ; the
    theft of the sun ; and the transmutation of human beings into ani-
    mals. These have been obtained from other informants as separate
    stories, but as a rule the first three are uniformly combined to make
    one complete narrative, while the other three are told separately, or
    are at times, particularly in the case of the story of the creation of
    human beings, combined with certain other myths.
    There was a large village at N6-nap6-ti (Kelseyville, Lake County)
    and hefe there lived two Wood-duck (wadawada) sisters who always
    kept apart from the rest of the inhabitants of the village, and, al-
    though there were many of the men of the village who admired
    them, the sisters persistently refused to have anything to do with
    them. One of their admirers was Coyote, who tried various means
    to induce one of them to become his wife, but all without success,
    so that he finally determined to resort to trickery. It being then
    the food-gathering season, he proposed that all of the women of the
    village should go on a buckeye gathering excursion into the neigh-
    boring mountains while the men were busy hunting and fishing, or
    were engaged in making implements at the village.
    The Wood-duck sisters had a very old and partly blind grand-
    mother who had gone out camping with another party, although
    they did not know this. When they went to get her to go with
    them, they found an old woman there who was covered with a rabbit-
    skin blanket and looked exactly like her, but who was really Coyote.
    1 This paper has been communicated as part of the Proceedings of the Cali-
    fornia Branch of the American Folk-Lore Society.
    2 This myth with others from the Porno region was collected during the sum-
    mer of 1904 as a part of the work of the Ethnological and Archreological Survey
    of California carried on by the Department of Anthropology of the University
    of California, through the liberality of Mrs. Phrebe A. Hearst. The myth was
    obtained from an informant who lives near Ukiah, Mendocino County, and it was
    first told to him by old people residing near Upper Lake, a town on the northern
    shore of Clear Lake the creation of which is here recounted. The constituent
    parts of this myth are, however, common throughout all of, at least, the upper
    Russian River and Clear Lake region.

    The Wood-ducks led this blind old woman along out to the camp and
    made a bed for her, for she was very tired.
    That evening when the food had been prepared, the Wood-ducks
    gave some to the old woman, but she said, “My daughters, I can-
    not eat. I cannot raise myself up. I want to sit up and eat.” The
    elder of the two sisters sat at the old woman’s back to hold her
    up, but Coyote said, “I cannot sit up when only one of you holds
    me up. One of you must sit in front of me.” . . . Then the two
    sisters began to fight Coyote and were soon joined by others of the
    women of the camp, who brought clubs and stones, for every one
    now knew that Coyote had been playing another of his tricks.
    There were born immediately four children. The first two Coyote
    rescued, placing them in his hunting sack. The other two were
    killed by the enraged women. Coyote immediately ran back to the
    village and the women followed soon after.
    Coyote continued to live at No-napo-ti with his two children, but
    he had no one to care for them while he was away hunting and fish-
    ing, and the people of the village treated them very badly whenever
    he was gone. They threw rocks and sticks at the children, called
    them bad names, and even threw coals of fire on them. When the
    children were old enough to get around by themselves, Coyote de-
    termined to revenge himself and his children for the abuse they had
    suffered. He accordingly went east to the end of the world and
    there dug a huge tunnel which he fiiled with fir bark. He disap-
    peared regularly every morning for four days, and no one could think
    what he was doing, for he went about it very secretly. Some of the
    people asked what he was doing while he was gone all day, but he
    replied that he was only hunting food for his children.
    After a long time Coyote put all kinds of food, water, clothing, a
    fire drill and other implements, and also his two children, into his
    hunting sack (yet), and after sundown went on the roof of the
    dance-house, where he watched toward the east for some time. Fi-
    nally he called out, “I do not know what can be the matter; it looks
    as if something is wrong. Come out and see.” Soon there was a
    great noise like thunder, and smoke and fire appeared all over the
    east as far as they could see from north to south. Every one knew
    that Coyote had something to do with it, and all began to ask him
    to save them, calling him father and other terms of relationship; but
    Coyote replied, ” I shall not be saved either. I do not know what
    has happened. I shall burn up too, I suppose ; my body is no rock
    or water.” But the people all cried to him to save them as the fire
    came nearer and nearer, until at last it completely surrounded them
    and left but a very small space about the village unburned.

  • Native Historian

    Coyote now shouted, “e–,” with his hand uplifted (all finger
    tips pointing upward), four times, and presently there came down out
    of the sky a feather rope (yulllk) on the end of which Spider (t6-cbu)
    hung with his back downward. Coyote jumped on to Spider’s belly
    and the feather rope immediately started to ascend. After a short
    time Coyote wished to stop, so Spider stopped the ascent and in-
    stantly spun a web large enough for Coyote to walk around on and
    look at the burning world beneath, which was by that time entirely
    on fire. They then went on upward for a time, whereupon Spider
    stopped and spun another web so that Coyote might give his children
    some food. A third stop was made and a web spun so that Coyote
    might give the children water, and a fourth and last stop was made
    and a web spun so that all might rest and take a last look at the
    burning world. At last they arrived at the gate 1 leading into the
    sky and entered.
    Spider, who was its keeper, remained at the gate, but Coyote and
    his children, who now got out of the hunting sack, went eastward
    toward the house of Madumda,2 which they saw immediately upon
    entering the gate. Their road lay over a plain covered with grass
    and sW1!et-smelling flowers. There were, however, no people to be
    seen. On the way Coyote and the children stopped and rested four
    times, but at last arrived at the house, where Coyote knocked on the
    door. Maddmda came and invited them into the house ; saying,
    “He he, sinwa no halma; what have you come here for? I know
    you have been doing something. That is why you come here in this
    manner. Why do you want to do something bad always ? Why do
    you want to treat your children (all people) that way? Why are
    you not sorry for your children? Now, go back and live as you
    did before and do not act that way.” Coyote said he would go
    back on the following day, and Madtimda then instructed him as to
    what he should do when he went to the earth and how he should
    act toward people in order that he might be on friendly terms with
    Coyote returned to the gate and Spider then took him back to the
    earth in the same manner as he had come ; but the earth was much
    changed. Formerly the mountains were high, but now they were
    much lower, the tops having been burned off. The trees, rocks, and
    1 The gate, an opening through the sky, is guarded by snakes who allow only
    those who reside in the heavens, or persons for whom Mad(imda has sent, to
    2 Madfimda, who is the chief deity in Porno mythology, is the elder brother
    of Coyote and lives in a large sweat-house in the sky, where, to a great extent,
    the conditions are the same as on earth except that there there is nothing dis-

  • I am being driven crazy by all the conflicting map information on the River Fire from the various sources.

    This image, for instance, wildly diverges from the current information posted here:


    That was posted by Yuba Net.

    No change on the east side of the fire next to Lakeport in the past two days, DESPITE the increase in MODIS hotspots and flames having broken through fire breaks and prevailing winds on Red Flag Warning days. It’s as though nobody wants us to know what is actually happening.

    Who’s right? Any of them?

    • for current info check #riverfire and #ranchfire. And for recent footage from the fire to get an idea of what firefighters are dealing with https://www.pscp.tv/w/1BRJjeAZrbLGw. The River Fire is mostly only hot in the Scotts Valley area and little cow mt. By tomorrow it should merge with the Ranch Fire. The main concern is the Ranch Fire. Its way out of control.

  • what about the cows in the pictures, hoping they were taken to a safe place…

    • I don’t know about these particular cows but I hear firefighters on the scanner calling for help moving large animals in dangerous areas so probably these were also. (Fingers crossed)

  • Really impressive coverage Kym, thank you. You make proper news delivery look effortless, I can imagine it’s not.

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