Sunday, 26 May 2024

Soda Complex evacuation order lifted; fire containment remains steady

MENDOCINO NATIONAL FOREST – An evacuation order for several homes affected by the Soda Complex was lifted Wednesday, while the fire's containment percentage remained the same as the previous day.

The Soda Complex is located to the north and northwest of Lake Pillsbury on the Mendocino National Forest's Upper Lake Ranger District. It was sparked by a dry lightning storm June 21.

Forest Services spokesman Marc Peebles said the lifting of the evacuation order became effective as of 6 p.m. Wednesday. The order had been for seven residences located in Lake and Mendocino counties between Deadmans Flat and Sunset Gap near the fire's east flank.

Peebles said National Forest road 20N04 and areas around the immediate fire area are open to residents but remain closed to the general public due to the large amount of fire equipment traveling in and out of the area. Residents returning to the area are advised to use caution when driving.

Incident Commander Dave Fiorella of the US Forest Service's Southern California Incident Management Team No. 3 – headquartered at Upper Lake High School – thanked the residents for their patience and understanding during the evacuation period, which he called “a very stressful and inconvenient event.”

Overall the Soda Complex grew to 8,652 acres and stayed at 90-percent containment, said Peebles.

The last active fire of the complex – and its largest – is the Mill fire, which remained at 85-percent containment Wednesday but grew slightly, reaching 3,043 acres, Peebles reported. The fire had approximately 860 personnel assigned to it, down 30 from the previous day.

Firefighters continued aggressively mopping up fire areas and dealing with debris that rolled out of the fire line, Peebles reported. Crews are holding operations along steep terrain in the southeast portion of the fire.

Air patrols of the fire areas also are continuing, according to Peebles, as are water drops. A suppression rehabilitation group has been established for the complex and will begin work on the fireline.

Peebles reported the fire is expected to be contained on Saturday.

Forest Services spokesperson Phebe Brown reported that the Vinegar Fire, part of the Lime Complex, has now burned 13,111 acres on the Mendocino National Forest and is 30-percent contained.

Brown said the Vinegar Fire and the 20,894-acre Yellow Fire in the Yolla Bolly-Middle Eel Wilderness are burning toward each other.

Smoke from area fires caused alarm for some county residents, as Lake County News reported in a midday update on Wednesday.

Cal Fire reported receiving thousands of calls from concerned Lake and Sonoma County residents, worried that a new fire might be the cause of the smoke. However, air reconnaissance found no new fires.

Lake County Air Pollution Control Officer Bob Reynolds reported Wednesday that the fires on the National Forests are primarily responsible for the smoke and degraded air quality over the county.

West to northwest winds are bringing the smoke into the county's air basin, he said, where air quality conditions are expected to remain unchanged through Thursday. Even with the smoke, air quality is expected to remain in the good to moderate range.

Reynolds said he was in Mendocino County Wednesday morning, where the air was smoky around Boonville and the northern Ukiah Valley. He said areas of the northern Sacramento Valley were experiencing bad air quality as well.

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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