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Fire at a glance (numbers)

  • Incident Name: North Complex
  • State: CA
  • Lead Agency: PNF
  • Size (acres): 318,930
  • Percent Contained: 95%
  • Estimate of Containment: November 12, 2020
  • Personnel: 470
  • Structures Destroyed: 2,455

North Complex, Plumas NF, USFS. IMT 2 (CA Team 11). One mile southwest of Crescent Mills, CA. Timber and brush. Minimal fire behavior with creeping, backing and smoldering. Area, road and trail closures in effect.

October 23, 2020 at 8:20 AM

The main work on the large area continues to be suppression repair. Handlines, dozer lines, damaged roads and areas cleared for safety zones or staging areas are being repaired. Work is continuing in the Buck’s Lake area, the Penstocks, in the northeast corner of the fire perimeter and around Little Grass Valley. One group is spiked out in the Grass Valley area. Good progress is being made but there is plenty of work still to do.

While fighting this fire, numerous contingency lines were constructed to stop the spread. Fortunately the fire was stopped and the fire perimeter lines are now well established; the fire is close to containment. Many of the contingency lines – dozer and handlines – are outside of the fire perimeter. The Forest Closure area currently includes the unburned areas with these contingency lines. As the damage from fighting the fire is repaired, Plumas National Forest leadership will be re-assessing the Closure order, especially in these unburned areas and will adjust the Forest Closure in the future..

The Red Flag Warning remains in effect through today at 5pm. During this time we are expecting winds north to east at 10-20 mph, gusting to 45 mph. Humidity will be in the 10-20% range with highs touching 70 degrees. Air quality is expected to remain Good.

October 22, 2020 at 9:48 AM

Progress continues today with suppression repair work in the areas of the most critical need. Today those areas are the Penstocks, south of Buck’s Lake, the northeast portion of the burn area and Little Grass Valley. Cultural sites and sensitive habitats inside the burn area will require significantly more time and resources to address. Teams of fire fighters have been organized into 4 groups and they add or subtract equipment based on the needs of their geographical assignment. Resources can change each day to be as efficient as possible in the suppression repair work being done. This suppression repair work is extremely important for the Feather River watershed to prevent sedimentation and preserve the water quality of Lake Oroville, a major source of drinking water for many Californians.

Cal Fire is continuing similar suppression repair work in the southern part of the burn area. Work in this area should be completed in the coming weeks.

The Red Flag Warning remains in effect until Friday at 5pm. During this time we are expecting winds north to east at 10-20 mph, gusting to 45 mph. Humidity will be in the 10-20% range with highs touching 70 degrees. Air quality is expected to remain Good.

October 21, 2020 at 11:43 AM

Yesterday crews made good progress completing suppression repair at the northern and northwestern portions of the fire perimeter. Although there is still opportunity for active burning, most of it is well within the interior of the fire area.

Due to the safety risks inherent in and around the fire perimeter, portions of the Plumas National Forest will remain closed for some time. PGE has major repair work to do on electrical infrastructure, active logging is occurring on private land to harvest burned trees while they still have value as timber (many more logging trucks on roads) and portions of the Forest road system have been heavily damaged and require repair. Getting the right expertise here to address these problems takes time and finishing this work takes time. In addition, there is landslide potential in many areas and many hazard trees along roads and in recreation areas. Some of this cannot be mitigated and portions of the fire area will remain closed until a substantial portion of the risk has passed. This was a very large, damaging fire affecting a third of the Plumas National Forest. The Forest Closure in and surrounding the fire area means that this area is closed to hunting, camping, hiking and fishing for this season and the next year.

The Red Flag warning issued on Monday night will continue through Friday. Conditions remain very dry for this time of year. Wind and humidity are expected to be mild today with highs reaching the 70’s, allowing for good weather while crews continue to make progress on suppression repair.

While smoke and haze has increased slightly over the weekend, air quality remains in the Good category.

October 20, 2020 at 8:17 AM

Yesterday fire crews made good progress toward suppression repair. Crews have finished suppression repair on the western areas (along the Oro Quincy highway) of the work zone and focus is shifting to other areas. Dozers are being used to recontour firelines, hand crews are pulling brush back over exposed soils, and chippers are mulching cut vegetation into chips that are spread over disturbed soils to minimize erosion. Incident leadership is hopeful that much of this work will can be completed so that care of the fire area can be returned to the Plumas National Forest.

In addition to the Fire Weather Watch issued on Sunday, a Red Flag Warning has now been issued for our area effective last night at 11pm extending through tomorrow morning at 8am. Winds are expected north to east at 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. Stronger winds are possible Wednesday night through Friday afternoon, with north to east winds 15 to 25 mph gusting to 40 mph. Locally stronger gusts are possible over ridges and through favored gaps and canyons during the night and morning hours. Humidity is expected between 12 to 20 percent with warm weather.

While smoke and haze has increased slightly over the weekend, air quality remains in the Good category.

October 18, 2020 at 10:45 AM

Fire crews continue to find hotspots and extinguish them while performing fire suppression repair work. Fire suppression repair is a series of actions taken to repair damages and minimize potential soil erosion and impacts resulting from firefighting activities. The hotspots that have been identified lately by infrared imaging and patrols are located well within the fire containment area. All areas of the burn area are getting attention to ensure full fire suppression and repair.

The weather is improving with the expiration of the recent Red Flag warning. Current patterns include diurnal (terrain driven) winds, warmer weather, and dry conditions. Wind is expected to be in the 6-10 mile per hour range with day time highs in the 70 degree range. Air quality is expected to remain Good for the coming days.

Forest closures are still in effect and hazardous conditions remain in the burn area. We please ask that the public stay out of forest closure areas and off of Forest Service roads, as interference with fire suppression could delay or impede firefighting efforts. Law enforcement will be patrolling the area. Please use caution as fire personnel continue working in the area. Drive carefully and watch for fire equipment. Watch your speed and also be aware of logging trucks around La Porte Road.

October 16, 2020 at 9:08 AM

Fire crews continued yesterday with operational objectives of finding smoke and hotspots and extinguishing them. Infrared imaging and crew patrols are indicating hotspots are located well within the burn area and have not been a threat throughout the current wind event. Crews continue to focus on suppression repair building water bars, removing dozer line berms, and chipping brush piles. Crews are also reclaiming fire hose and other supplies so they can be rehabilitated, stored in caches and used on future incidents.  

The fire area experienced sustained winds in the 20-30 mile per hour range with gusts into the 40 mile per hour range yesterday. Flare ups were minimal and the fire containment line held against the test that the wind posed. Additional fire suppression crews and resources continue to patrol along the Highway 70 Corridor. The Red Flag warning is forecasted until today at 6:00pm and wind is expected to ease tomorrow afternoon through the weekend.  

PG&E expects Public Safety Power Shutoffs to end with power being restored to affected customers by this evening. For more information on PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoffs, please see the website linked below. 

Information on PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff can be found at: https://pgealerts.alerts.pge.com/addresslookup/ 

October 14, 2020 at 8:44 AM

Drying will continue today with slight to no relative humidity recovery. Northeast wind is forecast to increase today with fire behavior transitioning from smoldering to surface fire. Small columns will be visible from multiple locations. Humidity will not reach levels where surface fire transition back to ground fire.

Red Flag Warning after 11 pm PDT. Breezy and mild with northeast winds gusting up to 26 mph. Humidity levels falling to around 20 percent and temperatures warming in the 70s to lower 80s.

October 12, 2020 at 8:18 AM

Crews continue to mop up and patrol areas south of Bucks Lake, the penstocks at Bucks Creek Powerhouse and monitoring the 70 corridor and the McGee Ridge areas. Last night air operations flew infrared imagery (IR) over the fire. Some areas of heat were observed in the fire’s interior and will be monitored.

Suppression repair is the major focus now, including erosion control and recovery of water hoses, pumps and water storage containers. Erosion control involves surface stabilization of exposed soils and berm repair. Crews knock down berms created by bulldozers during fire suppression, smoothing them out and then add drainage to direct water runoff during rain events. Miles of fire hose are being hauled and taken back to the Incident Command Post. Here, the California Conservation Crews sort through these mountains of hose and refurbish them back into compact rounds. The fire hose will be returned to the forest and Regional caches in Redding and San Bernardino to be used for future fire incidents.

October 11, 2020 at 9:38 AM

Current Conditions: Last night, crews continued mop up and patrol. The cold front that passed through brought a light mist to the fire area increasing relative humidity. This has raised fuel moistures, resulting in reduced fire surface spread in unburned areas within the interior of the fire. Last night was the last night shift and firefighters will focus resources to day time efforts.  

Today, crews will concentrate on suppression repair, including erosion control and recovery of miles of water hoses, pumps and water storage containers. Suppression teams will focus on contingency lines in the north and interior suppression repair areas in the south.   

As residents return home following the lifting of evacuation orders, please use caution as fire personnel are still working in the area. Drive carefully and watch for fire equipment. Watch your speed and also be aware of logging trucks around La Porte Road. 

Forest closures remain in effect and hazardous conditions still exist. The public is asked to stay out of forest closure areas, as interference with fire suppression could delay firefighting efforts.  Law enforcement will be patrolling the area.   

October 10, 2020 at 9:58 AM

Yesterday, the Plumas County Sheriff ‘s Office lifted all mandatory and advisory orders that were currently in place. Residents may return home, however please be aware that fire personnel are still working in the area. Drive carefully and watch for fire equipment. Forest closures remain in effect and hazardous conditions still exist. The public is asked to stay out of forest closure areas, as interference with fire suppression could delay firefighting efforts. Law enforcement will be patrolling the area.

Minimal fire activity continues, with green islands of vegetation burning within the interior. Crews will continue with mop up and back haul of hose lays. Tonight, will be the last shift for night crews as firefighters turn their focus to daytime suppression repair activities.

The cold front passing through will bring scattered showers and winds gusting up to 30 mph, creating hazards for firefighters, as snags and tree branches may fall.

October 9, 2020 at 7:12 AM

Last night, crews continued mop up and patrol of the fire perimeter. The fire remains within its containment lines and east of Highway 70.

Due to the great work of the fire fighters, fire behavior has been reduced, however islands of active fire within the fire perimeter will continue to burn, including surface fuels and isolated torching. Today, crews will continue with mop up, patrol and extinguishing pockets of fire within the fire perimeter. They will also be evaluating the needs and prioritizing areas for suppression repair.

CALtrans opened highway 70 for traffic in both directions. Please continue to use caution as firefighters and equipment will continue to be working in the area.

Butte County Sheriff’s Office has lifted all evacuation orders, warnings and road closures though Highway 70 north of Pulga is under traffic control only using one lane.. Highway 70 is open for traffic in both directions. Plumas County Sheriff’s Office has evacuation orders and warnings issued covering the Highway 70 corridor and surrounding area.

October 8, 2020 at 2:45 PM

Last night, crews continued mop up and patrolling the fire perimeter. The fire remained within its containment lines and east of Highway 70.

Today, firefighters will continue reinforcing mopping up and containment lines, while improving the contingency lines along the north and northwest side of State Route 70, Mill Creek towards the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Bald Eagle Ridge system.

Although fire behavior has been reduced, due to the great work of the fire fighters, areas of active burning within the fire perimeter will continue to burn. Aggressive runs through red fir stringers and slope driven runs to tops of ridges are possible. Dry fuels and winds pose a threat for spotting across the uncontained line. Crews will concentrate on mopping up heat signatures in these areas.

Gusty south to southwest winds up to 22 mph are expected over the next few days ahead of a developing Pacific storm system approaching the West Coast this weekend. These winds will test the fire lines.

October 7, 2020 at 8:11 PM

Today, firefighters concentrated resources at the penstocks near State Route 70. Spotting potential is minimized and the line continues to hold because of heavy mop up activity and clean burning of surface fuels.

Utilizing former dozer and hand lines from the 2016 Tobin Fire, crews worked contingency lines along the north and northwest side of State Route 70 to serve as a catcher’s mitt if spotting occurs. Crews also focused efforts on contingency lines from Mill Creek towards the Pacific Crest Trail as well as the Bald Eagle Ridge system. They have also been working an emergency line by Silver Lake. Crews have worked diligently to mop up heat signatures within the McGee Ridge spot fire. The rest of the fire remains within current containment lines and east of Highway 70.

Gusty south to southwest winds up to 22 mph will become common over the next few days ahead of a strong Pacific storm system that will be moving across Northern California on Saturday. These winds will test the fire lines.

Highway 70 still remains open to one-way traffic control with a pilot car between Rock Crest and Rock Creek, with potential plans of opening up both lanes in the next few days if fire remains in current footprint. Refer to the Cal Trans website for status changes.

PG&E has restored power this afternoon to the Bucks Lake and Haskins areas, Check the PG&E website for latest conditions.

October 7, 2020 at 7:35 AM

Today, crews continue to patrol the fire perimeter looking for any existing heat sources and extinguishing them as they are found. Firefighters continued to mop up the spot fire to ensure no remaining heat exists in the area. The fire remained within containment lines and east of Highway 70. Several crews will be working a swing shift to provide additional coverage.

PG&E has shut off power to the Bucks Lake and Haskins areas, due to aircraft working adjacent to distribution lines. The power shut off is expected to last through tomorrow evening (Wednesday, October 7th). However, this time frame is subject to change. Per the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office, these areas remain under a Mandatory Evacuation. Check the PG&E website for latest conditions.

State Route 70 is now open to one-way traffic control with a pilot car between Rock Crest and Rock Creek. However, the road can return to a full closure at any time due to fire activity. Refer to the CalTrans website for the latest status.

Butte County Sheriff’s Office has lifted all evacuation orders, warnings and road closures though Highway 70 north of Pulga is under traffic control and only using one lane.

Tonight, and the next few days, firefighters will continue to mop up and patrol increasing the depth of the containment lines. An expected cold front will bring increased winds from the southwest that will test containment lines.

October 6, 2020 at 8:42 AM

Last night, crews conducted hand ignitions in the steep terrain along the penstocks to secure sections of the line. Heavy equipment, aircraft and crews are being utilized to keep the fire in check as it backs down to the Feather River. The fire remains on the east side of Highway 70.

Today, firefighters continue to mop up and patrol, checking for any hot spots near control lines. Fire behavior is influenced by extremely dry timber understory, grass and brush in steep terrain spread by diurnal canyon winds (up canyon during the day and down in the evening).

Butte and Plumas County Sheriff’s Offices have evacuation orders and warnings issued covering the Highway 70 corridor and surrounding area. Please check their websites and Facebook pages for the latest updates. You can also sign up with your county for reverse 911 notifications by registering with the CODE RED system.

The fire is active in timber litter and brush with litter fuels of the North Fork Feather River. The fire has burned into several burn scars. To the North (1999 Lookout), South (1999 Pidgeon), East (2008 Cold) and to the West (2008 Scotch, 2008 BTU Complex and 2018 Camp).

Planed actions for today

North and South Zones – Division Z: Continue to hold and mop up all containment lines in the division to mitigate any threats to current containment lines.

Division OO: Firing will occur along the penstocks as conditions allow. Crews will continue to patrol and secure the Hwy 70 corridor. Continue constructing contingency lines north of Hwy 70 in conjunction with CAL FIRE operations. Aviation resources will continue to utilize bucket drops and retardant to prep containment lines and keep fire spread in check as conditions allow.

Division MM: Crews will continue to construct direct fireline using a combination of hand crews, equipment and cold trailing to contain unwanted fire spread to the south.

Division QQ: Continue patrolling and mopping up containment lines from DP90 to Grizzly Forebay. Continue monitoring fire edge as it burns to the north and nears the road system and control lines. Improve existing control lines to reduce the potential for the fire to spot across lines.

Division BB/DD/GG: Continue patrolling and mopping up along the entire division. Backhaul supplies and equipment to ICP.

West Zone

North Complex Column on Sept. 8, 2020

All fire lines are expected to hold. Crews will continue to reinforce direct firelines, mop up, and conduct tactical patrols around structures. Crews will continue to work in fire impacted areas and are engaged in making areas safe for re-population, and notifying agencies where infrastructure hazards exist. Crews will continue to implement the suppression repair plan.

Previous updates on the North Complex are here (beginning) and here (Sept. 20 to October 5,2020)