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Fire at a glance (numbers)

  • Incident Name: August Complex – west
  • State: CA
  • Lead Agency: MEU
  • Size (acres): 1,029,110 (All Zones)
  • Percent Contained: 100%
  • Estimate of Containment: October 14, 2020
  • Personnel: 2,153
  • Structures Destroyed: 52

August Complex West Zone, Mendocino Unit, Cal Fire. Transfer of command from IMT 1 (Cal Fire Team 5) back to the local unit will occur tomorrow. Four miles northeast of Covelo, CA. Timber, chaparral and tall grass. Minimal fire behavior with flanking, creeping and smoldering. Several communities and communication infrastructure threatened. Evacuations, area, road and trail closures in effect.

October 14, 2020 at 8:58 AM

CAL FIRE’s unified team and the U.S. Forest Service are engaged in a coordinated and collaborative response to take suppressive action on the August Complex, which has been reconfigured into four zones, to effectively provide a response for the communities at risk. Resources from across the state of California as well as Texas and Oregon have been assigned to assist on the August Complex-West Zone. The August Complex-West Zone has burned 140,522 acres, peaking at a span of 266 miles of fire line to date, and is 90% contained with approximately 1,500 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground.

Mop-up operations were successful today as firefighters continued to work mitigating any hazards, digging out any stump holes that might pose a heat source or threat, removing dead trees that are actively burning and strengthening containment lines. Smoldering islands and pockets of interior heat will continue to burn off until large fuels are consumed. Smoke may be visible throughout areas of the burn scar. Incident commanders remain diligent in evaluating opportunities to reduce evacuation orders and allow residents of the communities to return home.

October 11, 2020 at 9:26 AM

CAL FIRE’s unified team and the U.S. Forest Service are engaged in a coordinated and collaborative response to take suppressive action on the August Complex, which has been reconfigured into four zones, to effectively provide a response for the communities at risk. Resources from across the state of California as well as Montana, Texas, Oregon and New Jersey have been assigned to assist on the August Complex-West Zone. The August Complex-West Zone has burned 140,402 acres, peaking at a span of 266 miles of fire line to date, and is 75% contained with approximately 2,100 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground.

Fire behavior was manageable overnight as increased moisture levels brought slight relief to fine fuels, such as tall grass. Larger fuels still remained at critical levels and continued to burn within islands inside the containment lines. Today will begin a warming trend as dry conditions return, with low relative humidity and wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour in the afternoon. Smoke will still remain visible for the next couple days northeast of Covelo where firing operations were completed. Firefighters will remain in that area performing extensive mop-up operations. Crews will continue working to improve direct lines, mitigate any hazards, and provide aid to our colleagues from the August Complex – South Zone widening and improving direct lines, in addition to assisting the August Complex – Northwest Zone, as we continue to mitigate threats near Kettenpom and construct direct fire lines north east of Zenia.

October 10, 2020 at 10:37 AM

Assistance continued overnight with our counterparts from the August Complex – Northwest Zone, as we continued to mitigate threats near Kettenpom and construct direct fire lines north east of Zenia. Back firing tactics continued, helping to control the spread of the fire and help mitigate any threat to our containment lines. Crews continue to improve direct lines, mitigate any hazards and provide aid to our colleagues from the August Complex – South Zone, widening and improving direct lines. Today a cold front will push in from the northwest bringing wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour, with a low chance of wetting rain overall on the fire. Dangerously dry fuels in the area, combined with heavy timber and steep, rugged terrain, continue to challenge firefighters.

October 9, 2020 at 7:18 AM

The August Complex-West Zone has burned 137,178 acres, peaking at a span of 266 miles of fire line to date, and is 70% contained with approximately 2,200 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground. Firefighters continued to work overnight striving to keep active fire within control lines.

Teamwork remains with our counterparts from the August Complex – Northwest Zone, as firefighters assisted with strengthening handlines and dozer lines north of Zenia and Kettenpom. Back firing tactics to control the spread of the fire and to try and mitigate any threat to our containment lines was completed near Little Round Mountain.

Today will bring cooler temperatures with moderate relative humidity. However, dangerously dry fuels in the area, combined with heavy timber and steep, rugged terrain, continue to challenge firefighters. Light winds will be present in the morning, with northwest wind gusts in the afternoon. Firefighters will continue to improve direct lines, insert hose lays to support fire lines, mitigate any hazards, monitor and suppress spot fires, reinforce containment lines and protect structures.

October 7, 2020 at 8:08 PM

The August Complex-West Zone has burned 135,866 acres, peaking at a span of 266 miles of fire line to date, and is 65% contained with approximately 2,500 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground. Progress continued today as firefighters strengthened containment lines and mitigated hazards that would pose a risk to the fire line north of Zenia. Dangers still remain with active fire behavior burning in steep terrain. Crews continued to work with our counterparts from the August Complex – Northwest Zone, strengthening handlines and dozer lines. As the fire approaches our containment lines, firefighter’s may use back firing tactics to control the spread of the fire. This method was applied successfully today to help mitigate the threat of any fire activity crossing containment lines outside of the Covelo community. Tomorrow will bring slightly cooler temperatures, with wind gusts up to 20 miles per hour in the afternoon, that will be delayed by cloud coverage in the morning. Dangerously low humidity levels; which are unprecedented for this area; remain a hamper to fire suppression efforts, with the relative humidity reaching single digits in areas over the fire, combined with critically dry fuels. Firefighters will continue to reinforce containment lines, identify and remove any hazards, improve indirect lines, insert hose lays to support fire lines and protect structures. Incident Commanders continue to monitor the fire burning in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, which is part of the August Complex – North East Zone.

October 6, 2020 at 8:58 AM

The August Complex-West Zone has burned 134,836 acres, peaking at a span of 266 miles of fire line to date, and is 60% contained with approximately 1,600 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground. Fire activity increased overnight with areas of isolated torching observed. Active fire behavior remained above the community of Zenia and continued to move towards the south and west in Buttermilk Creek. Dangerously low humidity levels; which are unprecedented for this area; remain a hinder to fire suppression efforts. Firefighters persevered as they continued to reinforce containment lines, identify any hazards, improve indirect lines, insert hose lays to support fire lines and protect structures. Today will bring more high temperatures with low humidity. Terrain driven south, southeast winds will be present in the morning, with south, southwest winds and wind gusts up to 17 miles per hour in the afternoon and evening. Challenging conditions remain with active spot fires within heavy timber and steep rugged terrain as crews work to hold the fire within current control lines and strengthen containment lines. Assistance continues on the August Complex – North Zone. Incident Commanders continue to monitor the fire burning in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, which is part of the August Complex – North Zone.

October 5, 2020 at 7:35 AM

Overnight, the fire vigorously burned with wind-driven torching, spotting and fire runs observed within the interior. Firefighters continued to persevere as smoke and embers pushed back towards crews as they worked to reinforce containment lines, identify any hazards, build indirect lines for firing operations, insert hose lays to support fire lines and protect structures. Today crews are faced with another hot, and dry day. Challenging conditions remain with active spot fires within heavy timber and steep rugged terrain. Assistance continues on the August Complex – North Zone. Incident Commanders are actively monitoring the fire burning in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, which is part of the August Complex – North Zone.

October 4, 2020 at 10:08 AM

The August Complex-West Zone has burned 129,299 acres and is 55% contained with approximately 1,600 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground. The fire continued to burn vigorously overnight as north, north-west winds and wind gusts continued to push smoke and fire towards firefighters as they worked to strengthen containment lines and protect structures. Uphill and terrain runs, group torching and spotting was observed while firefighters continued to build direct lines where they were able to, build indirect lines for firing operations, and insert hose lays to support fire lines. Another hot, dry day is expected today along with north, north-west winds. Difficult conditions remain with the potential for spot fires within heavy timber and steep and rugged terrain. Assistance continues on the August Complex – North Zone. Incident Commanders are actively monitoring the fire burning in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, which is part of the August Complex – North Zone.

October 3, 2020 at 12:51 PM

Active fire behavior increased overnight with torching and spotting observed. The increase in fire activity hampered firefighter’s attempts to battle flames near the August Complex – North Zone. Active structure defense remains in place in and around the community of Zenia as the fire continues to move east and west. Continued hot and dry conditions will low relative humidity will remain today. Firing operations will continue when possible throughout the day, in addition to constructing direct containment lines where possible, along with indirect containment lines. Preparations will carry on for defensive actions where the fire crossed containment lines north of Zenia. Difficult conditions remain with active spot fires within heavy timber and steep and rugged terrain.

October 2, 2020 at 7:31 AM

Yesterday the fire crossed containment lines north of Zenia and remained very active overnight. Active structure defense is in place in and around the community of Zenia as the fire continues to move east and west.

A red flag warning remains in place until tonight, October 2, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. with heavy smoke, north-northwest winds and hot, dry conditions. Afternoon winds will be stronger today than Thursday. Challenging conditions remain with active spot fires within heavy timber and steep and rugged terrain. Firefighters continue to aggressively attack the fire with multiple dozers, engines, and hand crews, while continuing fire operations, building and installing containment lines, and laying hose lines where possible, in addition to assisting the August Complex – North Zone.

Incident Commanders continue to monitor the fire burning in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, which is part of the August Complex – North Zone. Incident Commanders are constantly monitoring evacuated areas and working with our law enforcement partners to return residents to their homes when it is safe to do so.

October 1, 2020 at 7:07 PM

The August Complex-West Zone has burned 120,463 acres, spans approximately 195 miles of fire line and is 55% contained with approximately 1,600 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground. Firefighters continued to be challenged with active spot fires within heavy timber and steep and rugged terrain, aggressively attacking the fire with multiple dozers, engines, and hand crews, while continuing fire operations, building and installing containment lines, and laying hose lines where possible.

A red flag warning remains in place until Friday, October 2, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. with heavy smoke, north-northwest winds and hot, dry conditions. Firefighters also assisted the August Complex – North Zone, prepping structures for defensive actions. Incident Commanders continue to monitor the fire burning in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, which is part of the August Complex – North Zone.

Incident Commanders are continuously monitoring evacuated areas and working with our law enforcement partners to return residents to their homes when it is safe to do so

September 30, 2020 at 8:56 PM

While the high winds have subsided, the fire danger remains extreme. Many hazards lurk throughout the August Complex North Zone. Smoke is settling into the region. Fire personnel working on the northern and western flanks have reported zero visibility due to dense smoke. Highly combustible vegetation, falling trees, downed powerlines, exploding fuel tanks, and many other dangerous conditions are present throughout the active fire perimeter, which continues to grow.

It is extremely important for residents to stay out of closed and evacuated areas, allowing firefighters to maintain focus on the fire and the numerous hazards in the area. Please prepare to evacuate during a warning and leave quickly when an evacuation order is issued. Failure to evacuate diverts firefighters from protecting homes to assisting residents who should have evacuated. The Trinity County Sheriff issued a new evacuation warning on Tuesday for Bear Wallow and Friend Mountain, including Rowdy Bear, as terrain-driven winds could move the fire further north into the South Fork Trinity River drainage.

A damage assessment team has been ordered to assist the Trinity County Office of Emergency Services. They understand homeowners are eager for information. Staff will enter affected areas as soon as it is safe to do so and directly notify owners; your patience is appreciated. Roadblocks remain in place for firefighter and public safety as well as property protection. Please comply with the Sheriff’s orders.

Fire behavior remains active, with tree torching and uphill runs. Green pockets of vegetation continue to ignite near Forest Glen and Ruth Lake, posing on-going threats to structures. Firefighters are still working hard in Ruth, Post Mountain, Forest Glen, Three Forks, Hoaglin, Zenia, Kettenpom, Hettenshaw, and other affected communities to reduce hazards, protect structures, and conduct structure triage.

Today crews are working to hold and improve the containment line on the east side of the fire. The fire is progressing north of State Route 36 on both sides of the South Fork Trinity River. Firefighters are ready to conduct strategic burning operations south and west of Post Mountain when conditions permit. Structure protection remains a high priority for firefighters. Dozers and hand crews are constructing containment lines around homes and properties at risk. Plans are in progress for protection around the Hyampom community. Additional air resources are being assigned to the fire. Air operations support firefighters on the ground as conditions permit.

September 29, 2020 at 7:19 AM

The August ComplexWest Zone has burned 116,759 acres, spans approximately 195 miles of fire line and is 65% contained with more than 1,600 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground. Over the last several days, Incident Commanders have been monitoring weather reports and the fire burning in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness which is part of the August Complex – North Zone.

In preparation for the potential impact that the forecasted red flag wind event could have on the fire in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, firefighters are working diligently from the air and the ground to strengthen and reinforce containment and control lines. Strong winds pushed the fire from the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness west, southwest towards control lines.

Yesterday, the fire continued to be wind driven to the west and southwest prompting evacuation orders and warnings being expanded in Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino Counties. Firefighters worked in extremely difficult terrain, performing structure defense and constructing both indirect and direct containment line in the Travis Ranch area. Overnight, the fire was extremely active north of Travis Ranch and east of Zenia where firefighters were faced with the fire making uphill terrain driven runs.

September 28, 2020 at 10:14 AM

Wind gusts continue to push the fire west, prompting evacuation orders to the Trinity County line and evacuation warnings in Humboldt County. High winds are forecast throughout the day today, with gusts exceeding 30 miles per hour and potentially accelerating down the west slope of South Fork Mountain, threatening communities to the west and north. The Ruth Valley and Mad River Valley are aligned to funnel the forecast winds and encourage fire spread in these areas. Residents are urged to comply with evacuation orders and to stay out of the area. Many roads are impassable due to fire and fallen trees. The fire remains extremely active; winds are carrying embers well beyond containment lines, and there is high potential for the fire to develop an active plume.

As fire activity increases with the winds and the heat of the day, large smoke columns are expected to form. Like thunderheads, columns build and then collapse. Collapsing columns are extremely dangerous, violently forcing winds outward, carrying fire and live embers far and wide. Extreme conditions are forecast into the evening; the Red Flag Warning is expected to end by 9pm.

Live embers were documented landing 8 miles ahead of the active fire front on Sunday. Spot fires ignited beyond control lines east of Forest Glen, north of State Route 36, and west of South Fork Mountain. The fires advanced to Ruth Lake and to the west side of the lake by afternoon. Crews are responding to the spot fires as conditions permit, working through the night. Firefighters continue to focus on firefighter and public safety, as well as point protection for structures.

New closures include all roads in Van Duzen, Mad River, Ruth, and Hettenshaw areas. Ruth Zenia Road is closed east of the US Forest Service Zenia Guard Station. The closure for State Route 36 now extends from the Humboldt County line on the west to the junction with Bowman Road on the east. New evacuation orders include Mad River, Lower Mad River Road, Zenia, and Kettenpom.

September 27, 2020 at 6:54 PM

Over the last several days, Incident Commanders have been monitoring weather reports and the fire burning in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness which is part of the August Complex – North Zone.

In preparation for the potential impact that the forecasted red flag wind event could have on the fire in the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness, firefighters worked diligently from the air and the ground to strengthen and reinforce containment and control lines.

Today, strong winds pushed the fire from the Yolla-Bolly Middle Eel Wilderness south west towards control lines, prompting evacuation orders being issued for areas north east of Covelo and south of Kekawaka in Mendocino and Trinity Counties respectively. An evacuation warning was issued for the Island Mountain area in Humboldt County and several evacuation warnings remain in place in Mendocino County including the addition of an evacuation warning for Zone V.

September 27, 2020 at 1:29 PM

August Complex- West Zone evacuation orders, new evacuation warnings for areas north of Round Valley in Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt counties.

ORDER Areas of MENDOCINO County:

•Zone R: West and south of Mina Road, south of the North Fork of the Eel River, east of the Eel River. • Zone P: South of the county line, east of Mina Road north of Hulls Valley Road and west of Hulls Creek.

• Zone O: South of the county line, east of Hulls Creek, north of Mendocino Pass Road, and west of Williams Creek.

• Zone Q: South of the County Line, west and north of the North Fork of the Eel River, north and east of Bald Mountain Road.

• Zone S: South of the County Line, east of Bell Springs Rd, north of Bell Springs Creek and west of the North Fork of the Eel River.

September 26, 2020 at 11:51 AM

State Route 36 is closed from the junction with State Route 3 on the east to South Fork Mountain Road at South Fork Mountain Summit on the west. Es6mated 6me of reopening is dependent on fire operations and fire behavior. County officials will be on site directing traffic.

A Red Flag Warning goes into effect Sunday morning for critical fire weather. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures are forecast through Monday. Winds are predicted to come out of the north/north east at 15 to 20 mph, gusting to 40 mph on exposed areas and ridgetops. Extreme fire behavior is possible where the predicted weather conditions align with terrain.

Firefighters are doing everything they can to keep the fire south of State Route 36. Aircraft will assist the firefighters as they work to secure the northeast corner near Forest Glen. Strategic firing operations will continue to reduce unburned fuels between the highway and the fire. This will decrease the intensity of the fire as it approaches the road, and support firefighters in their efforts to hold the fire south of Route 36.

Firefighters are working with dozers and other heavy equipment east of Ruth to “secure, control and gain depth along the fireline there,” said Operations Sec=on Chief Jon Glover. This is critical operation to complete before the wind shift on Sunday. “We are really trying to button up the control lines in the Ruth area ahead of the forecast wind shift,” said Planning Operations Sec=on Chief Karen Scholl.

Firefighters in Post Mountain/Trinity Pines continue to clean up the dozer line, assess and test pumps and hoses.

Over 120 firefighters are working through the night in the most critical areas of the fire. Handcrews, engines, and dozers are holding and strengthening the control lines from South Fork Mountain down to the South Fork Trinity River. “Night shift is really hard duty, some of the most dangerous that we do is at night, and we appreciate all that you’re doing out there,” said Incident Commander Norm McDonald expressing his appreciation for the crews.

Firefighters on the ground were assisted by aircraft yesterday outside of Forest Glen. Helicopters and single engine airtankers dropped thousands of gallons of water, and a VLAT, or very large air tanker, was used to drop retardant. This is a temporary holding tac=c that gives crews on the ground =me to get in place and use handtools and heavy equipment to secure the fireline. Waterdrops from helicopters are used to supply water to crews working on hot spots in areas that are not plumbed with pumps and a water source. Skidgines, dozers and masticators are just some of the heavy equipment working on firelines on the northernmost perimeter of the fire south of State Route 36.

September 25, 2020 at 7:22 AM

Overnight, firefighters worked diligently to improve and widen containment lines across all 195 miles of fire line, actively performing direct fire attack and mop up where fire conditions safely allow. Smoke will continue to be highly visible due to the fire making isolated uphill runs when aligned with topography, firing operations and multiple active pockets of fire.

September 24, 2020 at 7:39 AM

The August Complex-West Zone has burned 103,780 acres, spans approximately 195 miles of fire line and is 45% contained with more than 2,000 firefighters battling the fire from the air and the ground.

The ongoing fire suppression efforts have resulted in some evacuation orders and warnings being reduced while the incident commanders constantly evaluate existing orders and warnings as anticipated and observed fire conditions change.

Overnight, firefighters conducted additional firing operations in the area of Mill Creek, above Lake Pillsbury in an effort to eliminate isolated pockets of unburned fuels, while in areas further north, ground resources worked diligently to improve and widen containment lines. Firefighters across all 195 miles of fire line are actively performing direct fire attack and mop up where fire conditions safely allow and smoke is highly visible due to the fire making isolated uphill runs when aligned with topography, firing operations and multiple active pockets of fire.

September 23, 2020 at 7:15 AM

The current acreage of the August Complex West Zone is 103,628 acres and is 45% contained. Some evacuation orders and warnings have been reduced and are constantly evaluated as anticipated and observed fire conditions change. Overnight, firing operations near Lake Pillsbury continued in an effort to eliminate isolated pockets of unburned fuels, while in areas experiencing diminished fire behavior further north, firefighters continued mop-up and direct fire attack. Smoke is highly visible due to the fire making isolated uphill runs when aligned with topography, firing operations, active pockets of fire and multiple areas with smoldering and creeping fire.

September 22, 2020 at 7:36 AM

The current acreage of the August Complex West Zone is 95,168 acres and is 35% contained. Some evacuation orders and warnings have been reduced and are constantly evaluated as anticipated and observed fire conditions change. Favorable weather conditions allow firing operations near Lake Pillsbury to proceed in an effort to eliminate isolated pockets of unburned fuels, while areas experiencing diminished fire behavior further north, firefighters continued mop-up and direct fire attack. Smoke continues to be highly visible due to firing operations, active pockets of fire and multiple areas with smoldering and creeping fire.

September 20, 2020 at 11:21 AM

Overnight weather conditions have resulted in the fire backing down toward containment lines in some areas. The fire continues to make short runs within isolated interior pockets and burning operations near Lake Pillsbury are causing smoke to be highly visible. The August Complex West-Zone total fire line spans approximately 195 miles.

September 18, 2020 at 7:23 AM

CAL FIRE’s Incident Management team ordered the National Guard to assist with fire suppression efforts due to resource draw down throughout the state. The current acreage of the August Complex West Zone is 86,289 acres and is 7% contained. Resources from across the state of California as well as Montana, Idaho, Texas, and New Jersey have been assigned to assist on the August Complex-West Zone. Overnight the fire remained active in the southern portion, making uphill runs and torching when it was aligned with drainages and topography. The potential for active fire behavior will continue throughout the day.

September 16, 2020 at 7:50 AM

CAL FIRE’S unified team and the U.S. Forest Service are engaged in a coordinated response to take suppressive action on the August Complex, which has been split into three zones to effectively provide a response for the communities at risk.

The complexity of four teams managing one fire resulted in some acres being counted twice. Reconciliation of the acreage calculations puts the current acreage of the August Complex West Zone at 42,171 acres.

Resources from across the state of California as well as Montana, Utah, Texas, and New Jersey have been assigned to assist on the August Complex West Zone.

The fire remained active last night, with moderate fire behavior and isolated torching observed within the fire perimeter. The fire continues to make uphill slope-driven runs when in alignment with topography.

A low-pressure system sitting off the west coast will make little progress toward the fire today, resulting in similar weather for tomorrow. Relative humidity will remain low with poor overnight recoveries for the upper slopes and ridge, allowing the fire to remain active through the night.

For the latest road closures and evacuation information in Humboldt County please visit Humboldtgov.org/evacmap

For the latest road closures and evacuation information in Mendocino County, please visit https://tinyurl.com/MendoEvac