Now the Largest Single Fire in Modern California History, the Ranch Fire on the Mendocino Complex Continues to Grow

Plane dropping retardant on Division E the north side of the Ranch Fire yesterday.

Plane dropping retardant on Division E, the north side of the Ranch Fire yesterday. [Photo from the California Interagency Incident Management Team 1]

Today, the Ranch Fire on the Mendocino Complex became the largest single fire in modern California history when it topped 282,000 acres this morning. The whole Complex is now 331,399 acres and 70% contained.

The northeast of the fire pushed towards Lake Pillsbury and the cluster of homes on its southern shore. It also took a run towards Fouts Springs and crept closer to Glenn County where it is only a little over two miles from its southwestern corner.

Firefighter protecting a propane tank in Division E on the Ranch Fire.

Firefighter protecting a propane tank in Division E on the Ranch Fire yesterday. [Photo from California Interagency Incident Management Team 1]

According to the Northern California Geographic Coordination Center, “Damage assessments have found 144 residences, 119 minor structures, and 1 multiple residence destroyed. Damage assessment is continuing. Approximately 1,000 civilians are under evacuation orders and 180 civilians are in the advisory area.”

It takes courage to fight fire with fire. A firefighter holds a drip torch while gazing at wildfire climbing a tree and shooting into the air.

It takes courage to fight fire with fire. A firefighter holds a drip torch while gazing at wildfire climbing a tree and shooting into the air. [Photo from California Interagency Incident Management Team 1]

For more information on evacuations and road closures, click here.

The Plan:

The Ranch Fire grew a little over 6000 acres in the last 24 hours and is 62% contained. According to Cal Fire,

Last night the Ranch Fire was active in the northeast section of the fire. Today fire crews will continue attempting to contain the northwest portion of the fire, protecting the southern areas of Lake Pillsbury bringing it back into the Mendocino National Forest.

There are many constructed dozer lines along the western edge and throughout Potter Valley and below Lake Pillsbury. Fire crews will attempt to contain the fire from progressing west, keeping it south of Eel River. Dozer lines have been constructed in the northeast corner below Stonyford and contingency dozer lines have been constructed ahead of the fire around Stonyford with additional proposed lines being scouted.

No growth is expected today on the River Fire. Containment has grown to 93%. Total acreage on the fire is expected to remain around 48,920.

The Weather:  

Clearer skies this morning as the Mount Konocti Camera this morning showed some smoke high over Clear Lake.

Smoke lays in over Clear Lake but the sky above is mostly clear. [Image from here]

Temperatures will taper off slightly and humidity will rise through Wednesday. The firefighters will continue to be alert for problem developing as afternoon winds will encourage the erratic fire behavior.

Expect clearer air today in the area of the fire.

The Roads:

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


  • 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


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

Earlier Chapters:



  • This is what the USFS should be doing all the time.

    • they been doing that in klamath national forest east of Yreka for the last few years . looks lots better now.
      and doing lots of that in shasta/trinity national forest north of Mc Cloud

    • It’s expensive. Where should the money come from?

      • Less expensive than managing a 300k acre fire.

        • True, but try telling that to Congress. Fire scientists have been arguing for the need to do more fuel management for decades and it has never gotten funded at anywhere close to the needed level. Instead fire suppression eats up the budget and the money for fuels goes to it instead. Changes to the suppression budget are coming but not for a couple of years and fuel management is still only getting about 5% of what’s needed, perhaps even less now under Trump.

      • The USFS logs paid 12,5% to the schools, 12,5% to schools, the forests are cleaner, less prone to burn. Earth First put an end to that. Fuck heads. They have hurt so many people. The logs generated millions of dollars in revenue. Now that the progressive losers have stopped the logging, our forests have turned into high temp shitholes. Log baby Log. I have almost completed clear cutting our place, making it real fire proof I hope. Certain logs go to log home builder suppliers, some get processed for firewood, the rest is burned. The fire wood and log buyers give us quite a nice income. Tax free!Those of you who do not act now, to clean out your places and protect your homes, good luck.

        • it appears that most of the fir logs are going to china. you can thank the timber property owners. even Danco is cashing in.

        • Solution, looking for problem

          First you laid out where the tax money went, then you say “tax free”? Logging doesn’t have to be bad, but it doesn’t mean it’s all good. If you clear cut a section, it gets a lot of sun, and a bunch of dog hair brush grows up, in 40 years you get dense tight fire prone stands. Selective harvests can leave shade, and thin out these previously logged areas. The logging-as-solution to these fires is silly. Most of the area burnt, especially early in the Carr, Ranch, and River fires was scrub. Manzanita, Chemise, digger pines. There wasn’t much timber in these areas ever. As the fires burn further and further away they may find some stands of bigger trees.
          I see people complaining about taxes 9 months out of the year, then complaining about how big the fires are for 3.

    • Yes – but the cost is gigantic, and no one wants to spend the money. Who should pay for prescription burning? Calfire? The USFS? Property owners?

    • At 8.3 million dollars an hour over the last 10 years for our military spending, you’d think Osama been hiding was behind these forest fires. The new normal is the terrorism that these fires are wreaking on our parasympathetic nervous systems.

  • Unfortunately the California government isn’t capable of managing the largest tax revenue in United States history, despite paying the most taxes we have some of the worse services in the country and they can’t even manage to keep half the parks staffed and open. On top of that over 45% of CA is owned by the “federal government” which I don’t think the state manages?

    • While I’d never argue that the state (any state, really) is a model of fiancial efficiency, you have to realize that the metro areas suck up the vast majority of tax revenue for infrastructure and services. While rural areas are somewhat subsidized by metro areas the actual dollar amounts available are going to be small, relatively speaking. Plus it simply costs more to get most work done in rural areas, at least the work the state does.

      • If “the people” own the land, then the “the people” are responsible for taking care of it. That means maintaining the roads in “the people’s lands”, the roads used to access it, the services it needs, paying a good livelihood to those servicing its needs, keep it from becoming a public nuisance to surrounding areas, etc. If they can’t afford to do that then they have no more right to the land than someone whose house is a fire hazard, public health issue, doesn’t pay for the services it uses, doesn’t maintain it, etc. Government certainly insists on that for land owners, with regulations and fines to force compliance.

        What we have is that urban population centers where universities run hospitals, clinics and programs too far away to be accessible, have employment paying a higher wage, have less restrictive regulations on the environment, have more convenient infrastruct for businesses to access, more grants money, etc -simply because the votes are there.

        The government constantly restricts rural activity lest it damages the environment yet offers little to offset the economic handicapping. They do not subsidize rural populations, they abuse them. They take what they need when they want but otherwise forget there are people living here. If they shut down industry for the sake of retaining taking land or animals for “the people”, then they should be replacing those lost opportunities for economic development. They could move a few of the many government service like telephone service centers or bureau headquarters here. After all distance is not so much an issue in many types of government services. Those jobs should be ours.

  • Looking at the first photo and wondering why California doesn’t require all large propone tanks be buried ? This seems to only add to the dangers that our firefighters are threatened with. The danger of fire is in our everyday life . Be prepared ,carry a fire extinguisher in every vehicle or tractor you have . Have one by the gererator. Even by your water pump. Thanks to all of the amazing men and women who risk there lives everyday, from car accidents to search and rescue , the list goes on. And thanks Kym for keeping so up to date with the information.

    • Propane tanks aren’t that dangerous. The tanks will blow off propane and that blow off can ignite but the tanks don’t explode.

      • Wow, you are dangerously ignorant about propane tanks. There is a reason they are required (in all states) to be either silver or white, so they reflect the sun’s rays.

        • Tell that to my green propane tank.

        • Do you really think the suns radiation on Earth is hot enough to blow up a LPG tank? Exactly how many times have you heard of this happening?

        • Sorry Laura, propane tanks do explode from extreme heat. Why is it that the firefighter is trying to keep it from catching fire? Look on you tube for all the footage of explosions from propane tanks. A fire 2 years ago on a neighbors property had there tanks explode. Between the metal scraps flying and gas exploding it was heard by all the neighbors and thankfully our local fire brigade came to save the neighborhood! A safety valve can only do so much. I have also had faulty safety valves on brand new tanks before.

        • You say “dangerously ignorant” then get distracted by the reflection of your silver tank! Tanks come in all colors, generally are designed with fire in mind. to the previous commenter, I’d point out that if buried, the tanks would quickly rust out and leak. Tanks are designed to blow a pressure relief valve if they get overpressured with heat. then it is safer for the gas to be ignited than to gather, and pool. Tanks explode if the relief valve isn’t working, and the tank metal gets fatigued by heat. Then you get a B.L.E.V.E. a Boiling Liquid Evaporative Vapor Explosion, or “Blast Levels Everything Very Effectively”. Imagine a champagne bottle, but filled with pressurized Propane. if you pop the cork pressure is reduced, allowing the liquid to boil. when a tank ruptures it releases a huge volume of flammable gas into the fire! I was present at a BLEVE when a 30 gal tank was left on it’s side, inside (!) a structure fire. on old tanks the pressure relief valve doesn’t work when the tank is on it’s side. It blew the burning house all over the neighborhood, and tuliped out that tank!

  • Land owners in Humboldt, get ready, one day it could be our turn.

  • Untrue.
    You must not of heard of a BLEVE. Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.
    Here is a wonderful explanation and demonstration on Youtube.

    • LPG tanks can be made to explode, but the conditions in a forest fire will rarely provide the continued, sustained heat to reach that point. There are some videos from the Lake fire, the town is devastated, fire everywhere and propane tanks venting. None of those exploded.

  • Earth First is to blame, they should be responsible for all these fires. They wanted to protect the old growth redwood preventing logging, and this is what you get!

  • It seems silly at this point that weve been requiring new buildings/homes to have fire sprinklers on the inside and not the exterior.

    Though they have saved many a house, they dont do much at all from outside fires.

    After putting sprinklers on my roof, I’ve decided to add some to a permiter surrounding the house, adding moisture to the walls and surrounding grounds in the event of a fire.

    • Thanks for the comment, Brian, would
      exterior sprinklers save the house? What if the city water is shut off.

    • Where do you get your water? Anything that needs a pump is going to go out, probably fast, in a fire while a backup generator is itself a fire hazard. So how do you compensate for that?

      • A water storage tank with a generator powered pump should easily provide the water necessary i would think

      • Gas powered pumps are most reliable.

        The water is stored in dedicated fire water tanks: I have a well, I have springs.

    • Hey Brian, any idea how much water your system consumes, I need to build essentially 3 sets like yours for my buildings, and than the water storage to run it for 4-6 hours, if not longer. I’m thinking misters under my eves and decks, all of this controlled from a master valve on each structure, and drain-able come fall. I will feed it with gravity fed water, i have about 90 feet of head, i just need to figure how to make the tanks and feed line fire resistant without spending a fortune burying and trenching everything.

      • My system is off grid.

        I have a gas pump for the roof sprinklers, and another gas pump for the fire hose.

        Water is stored in marked “fire suppression only” tanks.

        Erik, the 3 sprinklers have been turned on for tests and show and tells about 10 times. Run for about 2 minutes each time. So maybe 20 minutes of running has taken 100 gallons. I have 2500 gallons devoted for fires.

        I put a 500 gallon right next to the house to support the sprinklers without any risk of pipes burning. It can be restocked by the 2500.

        Turning my system on has my roof soaked and dripping heavy water in 20 seconds. Most embers will be rendered useless and put out.

        The system in itself could keep your house wet and safe for an hour on a mild crawling fire.

        Im prepared for hell though. I have fire hose for a fire front itself. The sprinklers are for me to feel better about my house behind me.

        Saws on the ready to cut my shade trees.

        *and extuinguishers in every vehicle. Donated one to a neighbor for his backhoe. Planning to put one at gate for the 6 mile dirt road my neighborhood is on.

        **After last years sonoma/napa fires and this years redding disaster ive decided there is no way to be too prepared for a fire.

        • Hardibacker siding?

          • The cabin is a hodgepodge of some wood, some hardibacker.

            I think if i line my perimeter with more sprinklers to hit my walls and grounds i could sit and watch a movie through a mild fire.

            I forgot to mention that i have a stack of 6′ metal roofing from a shed i took down. If i were to have time before a fire i would put those around my walls with 2 screws each.

            • Wrap that thing in hardi and you could invite friends over for hot dogs and marshmallows during wildfires.

            • You need to focus on the weak points — any small openings where the wind could drive embers inside the attic or walls. That seems to be the primary way many houses end up burning, not heat or flames from the outside, though that certainly can happen. Unenclosed eaves, attic vents, foundation vents, utility entrances, even dog doors can provide entry to wind-driven embers.

              • You’re absolutely right, Cy. Here’s a fabulous paper that covers the details:

                This one gives good advice on how to prevent the proverbial “wall of flames” from reaching your doorstep:

                Ironically, the latter was written for the Sonoma area that burned in October, and warned of what recently occurred.

                Folks who believe in helping themselves to avoid becoming victims will appreciate these.

                And thank you also Brian, for your germane and helpful posts.

        • Thank you Brian.

        • Thanks Brian, excellent food for thought.

          • This setup was a test and im over impressed. In the long ill convert it to a steel pipe setup rather than pvc. Everything gets so wet the pvc wont melt, but it will degrade with sun and winter issues if not drained proper.

            I made a simple platform/mount too. It could be copied or improved.

            Let me know if you would like more info, otherwise your welcome!

            • Thank you Brian, model citizen, great work.
              Best time to avoid a catastrophe is before it happens. I love that you test everything on a fairly regular basis as well. Practice.. Drill.. Rehearse.. I would guess you are ex military but it doesn’t matter in the slightest. You have given me and maybe some others here a level of preparedness to strive for.. excellent work man..

        • Fire Safe Counselor

          Most structure fires require at least 10,000 gallons to put out. Get your system to run for at least 24 hrs. It may be better to have water around to extinguish a fire, than to blow it all out a day before the fire reaches you. Provide 1 1/2 “, or 2-1/2” fire hose fittings so firefighters can access water in volume if you are not there. many structures actually burn 24 hrs after the fire passes. There are gel type of treatments that last a little longer than plain water. fire is hot and good at evaporating moisture. Maintaining green grass next to the house is also a good use of water. Close up gaps. houses burn from little embers, not walls of flame.

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