Saturday, 18 May 2024

Local Cal Fire units sent to Humboldt Fire

LAKE COUNTY – As wildland fires continue to rage across the state – aided by unseasonably dry conditions and high winds – Cal Fire's local firefighters are once again leaving the county to provide assistance.


Cal Fire spokesperson Suzie Blankenship said Friday that personnel from the agency's Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit had been sent to fight the Humboldt Fire in Butte County.


Lakeport Fire officials said Friday that, so far, no local fire districts have sent personnel to combat that fire.


Late Friday, Cal Fire reported that nearly 6,000 structures – both homes and businesses – were threatened by the fire, which has so far burned just under 23,000 acres along Highway 32 and Humboldt Road on Stilson Canyon. It was only 20-percent contained on Friday night.


The dangerous conditions have caused residents to be evacuated from the southernmost portion of the town of Paradise; the communities of Butte Valley and Butte Creek Canyon also have been evacuated, according to Cal Fire.


Earlier in the week, the Pine Fire broke out near Cloverdale. Blankenship said an engine and a bulldozer from Middletown, two engines from the Kelseyville-Cobb Cal Fire station, three crews from Konocti Camp, and a helicopter and helicopter tender – both from Boggs Station – were on that fire, the cause of which is still under investigation.


“We were still committed to the Pine Fire when the Humboldt broke,” said Blankenship.


Some firefighting assistance that had been sent from other parts of the state was released early to respond to the Humboldt Fire while the Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit finished cleaning up at the Pine Fire, Blankenship said.


Since then, three “overhead” or supervisorial/logistical personnel, a strike team of Konocti Camp crews – including five engines and up to 18 firefighters – and some other incident command personnel from the unit have left for the Humboldt Fire, she said.


Some 2,842 firefighters – of which 1,094 are Cal Fire personnel – were on the Humboldt Fire Friday, Cal Fire reported. Costs to fight the fire so far have reached $1.2 million.


The Sonoma-Lake-Napa Unit also has a strike team of five engines still committed at the Martin Fire in Santa Cruz County, said Blankenship. The Martin Fire has so far burned 600 acres and is 65-percent contained, Cal Fire reported.


Smoke from the Humboldt Fire could be seen making its way across Lake County's air basin in recent days, creating a haze and bringing with it a noticeable burning smell.


Bob Reynolds of the Lake County Air Quality Management District reported Friday that easterly winds had carried the smoke 60 miles to Lake County.


The smoke from the fire and existing weather with offshore flow causes the smoke to be trapped in a re-circulating path over Northern California and within the Lake County Air Basin, he explained.


The high sunlight input and moisture cause photochemical reactions in the air that further reduces visibility by forming secondary particles in addition to the smoke, according to Reynolds.


Unless weather patterns change, Reynolds said the smoke and haze over Lake County could continue for several more days.


In the Sacramento Valley, Reynolds said visibility has reportedly dropped to a quarter of a mile in some areas, and the heavy smoke conditions were raising health concerns.


Reynolds said that, despite the poor air quality, the pollution levels have not been high enough to be a health threat to Lake County's air quality. The measured levels are only about 65 percent of the allowed ambient air quality health standards.


Anyone who is especially sensitive to respiratory irritants or suffers breathing impairment should stay indoors and avoid unnecessary exercise, he said. If using air conditioners, place them on recirculation mode.


Reynolds urged people who are sensitive, who suffer from asthma or pulmonary disease, or have other health problems to consult their health care professional if they experience any health problems.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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