Saturday, 13 April 2024

New command takes over Soda Complex management

Southern California Incident Management No. 3 is managing the Soda Complex of fires in the Mendocino National Forest from Upper Lake High School. Photo by Lenny Matthews.


UPPER LAKE – A new incident management team has taken over supervision of the Soda Complex, which officials have estimated could be contained in the coming week.

Southern California Incident Management No. 3 took over the fire's management on Saturday afternoon, said Forest Service spokesman Marc Peebles.

“We're still getting our arms around it,” he said.

The team is working from a headquarters camp at Upper Lake High School, Peebles said Sunday. There is also a remote camp at Soda Spike for firefighters.

The four-fire complex has burned 7,020 acres to date, Peebles said. It was sparked by a lightning storm that passed over Northern California on June 21.

Over the past weekend the two fires that are still burning – the Monkey Rock Fire and the Mill Fire – continued to grow, said Peebles, causing the containment estimates to roll back from 78 percent on Saturday to 64 percent on Sunday. Peebles said 330 firefighters remain assigned to the two remaining fires.

The Monkey Rock Fire, at 1,630 acres and 65-percent contained, is estimated for full containment on Monday, according to Peebles. The Mill Fire has burned 1,600 acres and is 40-percent contained. Peebles said the Mill Fire's estimated containment date is next Saturday.

“There's a lot of line to construct that they're working on it diligently,” Peebles said of efforts to contain the fires.

The fires are located on the forest's Upper Lake Ranger District, in remote lands to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury.

Conditions there are very hot, Peebles said. In addition, firefighters are dealing with steep, rugged terrain. “There's all sorts of hazards out there.”

The 1,600-acre Back Fire and the 2,190-acre Big Fire already have been contained, but patrols remain on the areas they burned in case of flareups, Peebles reported.

On Friday a firefighter was taken to emergency care, said Peebles.

“There was a firefight that they thought might have had a heart attack or heard condition,” he said.

However, it was later found out that the firefighter hadn't suffered a heart attack, and the person was treated and released, and is doing OK, Peebles said.

Peebles said the current incident command expects to finish out the fire, and said the headquarters will stay in place Upper Lake until the complex is wrapped up.

Pogie Point Campground at Lake Pillsbury remains closed and is being used as a sleeping area for firefighters, according to officials. They're also asking hunters to be especially careful of fire equipment moving through the forest, with archery season having begun over the weekend.

Peebles didn't have an updated cost estimate for suppression, which on Saturday had been placed at $6.8 million.

In other fire news around the region, the Mendocino Lightning Complex is expected to be contained on Wednesday. So far, it's burned 53,300 acres and is 85-percent contained, according to Cal Fire. Suppression efforts have cost more than $36.5 million, with 2,154 firefighters assigned to the complex.

While evacuations remain in effect in certain communities, an evacuation order was lifted Sunday morning for the community of Rockport.

Cal Fire reported Sunday that the lightning fires around the state have burned a total of 825,218 acres since June 20. There are still 288 active fires around the state, 16 of which are in Cal Fire jurisdiction.

In all, 21,447 fire personnel, 1,593 fire engines, 473 hand crews, 293 dozers, 406 water tenders and 126 helicopters remain committed to the fires, according to Cal Fire.

For more information about the forest fires visit Forest Service Web site at or For information about other fires around the state, visit

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


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