More Firefighters Injured and Containment Drops as the Monstrous Mendocino Complex Chews Through Nearly Half of Lake County

Firefighter conducting a burn operation to stop the Ranch Fire on the Mendocino Complex in early August.

Firefighter conducting a burn operation to stop the Ranch Fire on the Mendocino Complex in early August. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

The largest fire in modern California history, the Mendocino Complex, grew to over 400,000 acres yesterday–now it is over 632 square miles. That’s almost half of Lake County’s 1,329 square miles.

Containment has dropped on the Mendocino Complex as the Ranch Fire continues to run to the east. It grew a little over 5000 acres in the last 24 hours for a total of 404,532 acres with 74% containment compared to yesterday’s 79%.

The Los Angeles Fire Department announced, “On Sunday, August 19, five members of Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Strike Team 1880C were injured during operations at the Mendocino Complex Fire. All five suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from area hospitals.”

For more information on evacuations and road closures, click here or see the evacuation map below.

The Plan:

Firefighters with Cal Fire rush to add more hose to a line while fighting spot fires in a field in High Valley near the town of Clearlake Oaks from the Ranch Fire on Sunday.

Firefighters rush to add more hose to a line while fighting spot fires in a field in High Valley near the town of Clearlake Oaks from the Ranch Fire on Sunday, August 5. [Photo by Mark McKenna]

While firefighters have been holding the northwestern flank of the Ranch Fire, the northeastern edge pushed another arm into Glenn County.
According to Cal Fire,

Overnight, the Ranch Fire continued to burn through portions of grass, timber and brush in the steep terrain in northern portions of
the fire area. Fire activity is expected to increase in the later part of the afternoon as smoke clears. Additionally, fire activity is
expected to decrease in the later evenings due to increased humidity and lower temperatures. Over 9 miles of firing occurred last night on the northern portion of the Ranch Fire. Firing operations will continue as weather conditions permit.

No growth is expected now in the southern half of the fire.

The River Fire is now completely contained. Total acreage on the fire is 48,920.

The Weather:  

Clearing over CLear Lake

Hazy day on Clear Lake. [Image from here]

The weather is still predicted to be hot but cooler than yesterday with highs in the low nineties. Temperatures are expected to cool slightly throughout the week. Increased humidity overnight is also expected to help firefighters.

The Roads:

All major roads are open throughout the Mendocino Complex.  However, many smaller roads are closed so check Cal Fire for the latest.

The MAPS:

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32 comments

  • If the fire was a mile wide it would be 632 miles long. At 63.2 mph it would take 10 hours to drive the length of it.
    This conflagration is mind boggling….

    We are going to need to buy a lot of carbon offsets to make up for this one.

    • unbridled philistine

      oh I see. If you stretched the fire perimeter out to a straight line.. I see the math now really puts into perspective does’nt it?

    • Stop cutting old growth duh

      All the more reason to stop clearcutting! & cutting any old growth at this point.
      The rules on the 3 acre conversions have to change and not the pot regs. In my neighborhood, the drainages on either side of us were cut top to bottom right up to creeksides (illegal) then 8 of our 12 neighbors did 3 acre conversions with loggers who said they had to “take every living thing” off the 3 acres by law (not true). So within 2 miles theres 24 acres just in conversions just to sell the redwood. First coyote spotted in the neighborhood a few weeks ago, none if the old timers ever saw one here before. The bears&mtn lions are coming in closer as they look for shade.
      I called cdf&they said there’s no limit in an area for 3 acre conversions. Lame. Call them&hold them to task! Even tho you just get a warning for your first violation (according to person at cdf) its at least recorded.
      If i was a pot grower id be super pissed to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to follow rules no other land use industry or private person has to. The regs on pot arent going to mitigate the damage done by all these awful cuts.

    • Mendocino National Desert

      You are very right Ernie. They made the choice to control this one early on rather than fight this ine, it took a week before they assigned a sizeable force or resources to put this one out. Calfire already has maps set as to areas thwy are going to just let burn when a good fire and tume comes and this is one of those planning maps. It all goes in tune with forcing people out of Biological storage zones and into cities and metropolitan’s. As the fire dangers increase we will all lose access to these zones in the name of protecting the resources, we can also expect new zoning laws in Northern California for remote tpz restrictions as well as more rangeland and wildland restrictions. We could have saved some old growth redwoods and some coastal tan oaks for humidity but we “logged the redwoods to infinity” as LP’s Harry Merlo once said. Drier times have arrived, no snow pack, drier foothills, a earlier summer and fireseason as the forests burn to deserts and the forest floor soil is incinerated to a crisp. Superfires and Firenados are the new age. Sing back the old growth bring back the rain.

    • Theories on the virtue or not of fire suppression has consequence. As does zoning, population, climate, etc. Too much of the time people paint what is complex in terms they want to believe will fix the problems yet refuse to accept the correlated ideas that are contradictions or negatives.

      Fire suppression worked but only as long as the efforts are unrelenting and then, when fire happened, it was not controlable. But while the efforts were working, populations spread away from urban centers and out to places where fire danger is large. I participate in this, loving the freedoms of my country life but contributing to the danger of fires. Building on hillsides and along ridges contributes to the danger but with population pressures, that is the country left most available for all but the richest. It’s a hard issue. It helps to have a broader history than is given in the press.

    • “Before WWII, the Forest Service opposed prescribed burning, which was routinely practiced by private landowners in the South. So the Forest Service recorded all acres of prescribed burns as wildfires. Today, there is no way to tell which acres were actually wildfires and which were prescribed. So all numbers before 1940 or so are suspect. Even with that, a case can be made that more acres burned in the 1930s than any decade since, but the case is imperfect.”

  • This must be what they call a 100 year fire

    • The Great Fire of 1910 burned over 3 million acres. (Or 4700 square miles, if you prefer)

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Fire_of_1910

      “On August 20, a cold front blew in and brought hurricane-force winds to the interior Northwest, whipping the hundreds of small fires into one or two much larger blazing infernos.[3] Such a conflagration was impossible to fight; there were too few men and supplies. The United States Forest Service (then called the National Forest Service) was only five years old at the time and unprepared for the possibilities of the dry summer or a fire of this magnitude. Later, at the behest of President William Howard Taft, the U.S. Army’s 25th Infantry Regiment (known as the Buffalo Soldiers), was brought in to help fight the blaze.[3][8]

      Smoke from the fire was said to have been seen as far east as Watertown, New York, and as far south as Denver, Colorado. It was reported that at night, five hundred miles (800 km) out into the Pacific Ocean, ships could not navigate by the stars because the sky was cloudy with smoke.[5]

      The extreme scorching heat of the sudden blowup can be attributed to the expansive Western white pine forests that covered much of northern Idaho at the time. Hydrocarbons in the trees’ resinous sap boiled out and created a cloud of highly flammable gas that blanketed hundreds of square miles, which then spontaneously detonated dozens of times, each time sending tongues of flame thousands of feet into the sky and creating a rolling wave of fire that destroyed anything and everything in its path.[9]”

  • Just wondering, but how bout condensing future reports of “mendo complex” into only reporting the ranch fire.

    Conflating the 2 seperate fires numbers at this point seems more confusing than anything, maybe it’ll save you 5 minutes of typing too, Kym.

  • Kim! Your first sentence is off. Sounds like it grew 400,000 acres LAST NIGHT. Thanks- you are the best source on these fires. I love what you do with fire news. You are a great asset to our communities!

  • grew over 400,000 acres yesterday? Yikes!

  • I am a retired wildland firefighter. I totally agree that when Cal-Fire called this a complex it became totally confusing for the public and the press. For days on end the press called the Ranch fire the largest in California history, it did not reach that figure until Aug 12th when the Ranch fire on its on merit became a little over 1000 acres more than the Thomas fire of 2017.
    Cal-Fire did nothing to stop the press from quoting the misleading figures. At this point it still is a Mendocino Complex and will stay that way because of the paper trail.
    Not sure how the press also got into the business of using square miles instead of the traditional acres numbers. Must be a European Union trend.

    The photo I used is from my friend, saving his historic Ranch in the Bartlett Springs area. It is located about in the Southeastern half of the burned over area.

    • Agreed. Thanks for your input, I think many feel the same about the Ranch fire and River fire being seperate and seperated.

      The picture is wild, are those downed trees glowing in that pattern?

      And yikes, the wind is telling about itself with that little conifer..

    • I don’t want to speak for “the press” (like most lumping terms its pretty lumpy and inaccurate) but speaking for this “press”, I usually use acres. However, today I thought using square miles might help some readers grasp the enormity of the beast.

      I can’t speak to the rest of the press but I refer to the Ranch and Mendocino Complex both but I believe accurately represented the different acreage when referring to each individual one. Though god knows, mistakes happen all too frequently.

      It is normal for fires fought together to be called a Complex. And considering the added difficulty of fighting them both, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to add them together. It certainly is not the first time the fires in a complex are added together to compute acreage.

      • You are right about what a complex is:

        ” Two or more individual incidents located in the same general area which are assigned to a single incident commander or unified command.”

        But, being that the ranch fire on its own is now the largest in CA history and still growing while the River fire is contained and not growing (and absolutely tiny by comparison) the need to report on the River fire (one half of the “complex”) becomes quite unnecessary.

        Either way, you do what you will, and I will appreciate it as is.

    • Although I do not claim to know much of the criteria in the decision to lump or split, I would not be surprised if at least part of that process was considering that at least two other major fires (Carr and Ferguson) were already (to my memory) rolling. Lumping the River and Ranch into a complex allowed them to cover those with one overhead team instead of two separate teams. Especially given the weather conditions at the time, maybe they were attempting to conserve overhead teams in reserve to be primed to respond to subsequent incidents.

    • Historical Fire Researcher

      Since Calfire already had plans before this fire and maps for which areas they will allow to burn and control and which areas they will actually protect and fight the fire, it seems to me to be no surprise that they actually purposefully connected the two fires under the “Mendocino Complex” banner with the intention to confuse. Calfire has been ultra secretive and confusing in bothe using the “Mendocino Complex” name which was used last year, and combining all resources for both the Ranch and River fires under one command. Calfire purposefully let this one burn folks, Snow Mountain was already known to be a ticking fire bomb from the high levels of nano-aluminum from PG&E Cloud Seeding Projects for the last 30 years to Experiment with increasing water flow and storage into Lake Pillsbury, Van Arsdale , Lake Mendo, Russian River. The Nano- aluminum content of soils and water on Snow Mountain was astronomical, and nano aluminum is extremely combustable and flammable, see un1396, All those planes and Chemtrails are actually a “cloud seeding” project that you see flying in the foothills North to South on the East side of 101 and West Side of Interstate 5. Calfire is leting the rains put this one out, watch and see…….

      • “CalFire is letting the rains put this one out, watch and see…”

        I could poke fun at all the other cruddle you said but the above is all I can muster the interest to type for.

        If you have not noticed, there have been 0 rains. And containment has climbed into the 70% and above. Itll be 90% contained before any rains, most likely.

        Who needs to spend more time watching?

  • Perfection not required

    Adding “to” in front of the 400,000 will fix it.

  • My first thought was “Yikes!” Then I took a pause to reconsider.

    The wording context is not that the ‘fire grew 400,000 acres yesterday’ as much as it grew “‘TO’ 400,000 acres,” or is at 400,000 acres in total size at the present time. Regardless, it’s way, way bad. I’m not sure we’ve seen the likes of this anytime before.

    • Ack, my apologies. I’ve added “to” back in. Somehow it got dropped.

      • One more thing: A lot of the Mendo complex is now burning outside of Lake County, including the currently active areas. So while the total acreage of the fire is about half the total area of Lake County, the percentage of the fire area IN Lake Co. is somewhat less than that. Someone who knows how to scale maps could probably give us a more exact figure, if people are interested.
        I say this only because I live in Lake Co. and while we have had the largest number of people affected by the fire, we can’t take all the glory for acreage burned. But of course we’ve had a disproportionate number of wildfires in the last few years, which I believe has most to do with our vegetation patterns and rugged terrain. Many Lake Co oldtimers say something like this happens every 20 years or so. My optometrist has a fascinating historic fire map in his lobby, most instructive. The natural tendency of this area to burn is, however, exacerbated by global climate change. I’m pretty sure this is the most destructive fire, in terms of acreage burned, of any fire in Lake Co.

  • Thanks for the excellent coverage. No need to apologize for simple errors anyone can figure out themselves…well, almost anyone.

  • the fire season is not over yet.

  • This arrival is ridiculous in fact this source is to be completely honest I have read a few articles regarding,updates of the mendicino complex fire by this source and every single article is inaccurate almost every statement they make regarding containment and acres burned amongst other things aren’t even correct the fire is at 67% containment it has not burned over 400,000 acres and it hasn’t made it to 79% containment once since it started burning it was 74% contained a couple days ago which was the most it has been. . . I figured the first article I read by this source was just mistaken info they must have gotten and then after the second one it kinda annoyed me because it seems as if there over exaggerating numbers to be dramatic which isnt cool these fires have been a serious thing for lake county and other counties as well its dramatic enough without some reporter over exaggerating the numbers and facts I mean come on now this is ridiculous and it is not that difficult to find the correct fire information at all now this article I can’t help myself and had to say something.

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