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The August Complex is continuing to burn as a Red Flag Warning continues. The fire has charred 349,565 acres and is 24 percent contained. The Hull, Doe, Tatham, and Glade fires burned into one giant fire. Over the weekend the winds shifted directions and today we could see strong gusts of up to 30-40 mph. The Red Flag Warning issued Sunday for last night starting at 10 pm until tomorrow morning at 8 am. With that comes the possibility of more fire activity and spread with heavy smoke. Mendocino National Forest officials have also updated the closure area due to the August Complex.

The new closure will be in place until the end of October. The Snow Mountain Wilderness is open to recreation, but most of the southern area is closed so firefighters have better access and the public is kept safe from fire behavior and hazards because of the fire. Smoke from the fire’s in the unhealthy range at times. Plus there’s still a Fire Weather Warning in effect until tomorrow.

There’s an evacuation Order for the Mendocino National Forest in Glenn County still in place due to the fire. It’s from the Forest Boundary west to the Mendocino County line due to the active fire burning on west side. More areas have also been added to the Pillsbury Ranch evacuation order to include the entire Lake Pillsbury Basin. So all areas and residents north of Pack Saddle Creek, south of the Lake County line, west of the Lake County Line and east of the Lake County Line have to leave their homes due to an immediate threat. If you need a temporary shelter, go to the Upper Lake County Park at 575 East Hwy. 20. You must stay in your vehicle and wear masks when you get there.

A new fire over the weekend in Mendocino County has triggered evacuations. The Oak Fire has burned 1,000 acres West of Highway 101 at Big John Road & Skyview Road, in the Brooktrails area of Willits. The Evacuation Order is right there, for Big John Rd, Skyview Rd, First Gate Road, Schow Road to Ryan Creek, and north and east of Big John Road. Crews say the fire’s burning in grass, brush, oak and pine trees in extreme conditions with high heat, low humidity, and a potential for erratic winds.  

Due to the LNU Complex which is more than 90% contained now, Lake County and the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services have opened a Local Assistance Center. They say it’ll be like a ‘one-stop’ shop, where individuals and businesses with disaster-related loss or damage can get help and access services. This is the 6th year in a row Lake County has had major wildfire disasters. Due to the pandemic, the Local Assistance Center will be online. There you can connect to the SBA for a business loan and other local and state services. If you’ve lost your home or had damage, there will be links to sign up for information on debris removal, hazardous materials clean-up, property tax evaluation and relief a lot more.  Phone assistance will be available for clients without the ability to access the website for a limited period of time only, September 7 – 11, 2020at (707) 995-4335Monday through Friday, 8:00am – 5:00pm.  The Lake County Disaster 2-1-1 information line has also been activated for disaster and recovery information. 

A couple from Clearlake have been arrested in Redwood Valley for drug sales. The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office reports a deputy on routine patrol seeing a Jeep in Redwood Valley with expired registration tabs. The driver, Joseph Fitzgerald and his passenger Allison Strout. She had some outstanding Humboldt County arrest warrants with search terms, deputies found a bunch of heroin and some meth. They say Fitzgerald was going to sell the heroin so he was arrested for possession of narcotics for sale and Strout for the outstanding warrants.

Solar arrays have been put up on three schools in the Ukiah Unified School District. Calpella Elementary, Eagle Peak Middle School, and Grace Hudson Elementary. The school district working with a company in Santa Rosa to be more energy efficient. The solar panels are supposed to save the district money along with new LED lighting. The school district says with all of the savings, they can then upgrade heating, ventilation, and air conditioning at Grace Hudson. The three ground-mounted systems are reportedly saving the district nearly $208,000 a year.

Because the August Complex keeps growing and the containment is still only 24% the evacuation orders have grown with the fire. The Lake Pillsbury Ranch area in Lake County has been ordered to leave and the United States Forest Service has ordered a temporary closure of all of the day use and campsites in the Forest. There’s been no update from the Forest Service so far this morning on the fire. The last update was about 24 hours ago. The fire’s now the fourth largest wildfire in modern California history, burning on part of the scar from the largest fire ever recorded in the state, the Mendocino Complex. This fire is expected to keep burning even as it slows in the fire scar.  The August Complex has burned more than 356,350 acres.

There’s a red flag warning for the eastern areas of Mendocino County and a large swath of Lake County above 1500 feet. Also in Sonoma County due to powerful winds expected today. Meteorologists have forecasted wind gusts of up to 25 to 30 mph in the valleys and stronger gusts up to 50 mph on hilltops and ridge lines.  

There are a couple of evacuation centers set up for the Oak Fire as 3,400 structures are reportedly threatened. One center at Willits High, and the other at Baechtel Grove Middle School. Large animals can be taken to Willits High also. In Laytonville, evacuees and large animals can also head to Harwood Park. If you’ve tested positive for coronavirus or are under isolation orders or quarantine and have to evacuate, there is another location set up. There is no school for the Willits and Laytonville school districts today due to the fire.

As of last night the Oak Fire had crossed the 101 north of Oil Well Hill. The highway is closed between the north end of the Willits Bypass, and the intersection with State Route 162 to the north. You cannot get into the Brooktrails area at all and there’s no estimated time of reopening. All of the area is under a mandatory evacuation order and more in the Willits area today, but no residential areas as of last night. The fire has burned 1,000 acres and is 0% contained. The fire being fought on the ground and in the air by Cal Fire with local departments and prisoner hand crews. Additional resources have been called.

Flare-ups have been reported on the LNU Lightning Complex fire’s Walbridge fire in Sonoma County. That has caused a new evacuation order and evacuation warning. The fire has not moved as far as acreage, it’s burning more actively, but within containment lines. It’s burned just under 55,000 acres and was 95% contained. The entire complex has charred 375,209 acres and 91-percent contained. On Saturday the Sheriff lifted evacuation orders, then last night the Sheriff’s office issued new mandatory orders and a warning for another area. For Lake County, the Hennessey fire has remained in its containment lines. The fire has also burned in Colusa, Napa, Solano and Yolo counties and is still at 317,909 acres and 91-percent contained.

PG&E has started to turn power off across Northern Calif because of the extreme fire weather. 22 counties in Northern California could have outages thru tomorrow morning, but only two dozen Lake County residents and no Mendocino County residents were expected to be affected.  The latest public safety power shutoff due to the forecast of extreme heat, low humidity and gusty winds, a mixture that can create critical fire weather with high ignition risk.  None of those affected in Lake County were medical baseline customers. Those who do lose their power were expected to go dark between 3 and 6 a.m. this morning and have it restored tomorrow night by 7 p.m.  PG&E is using temporary generation and islanding so 69,000 customers and several medical facilities stay online.

The Oak Fire’s growth downgraded by Cal Fire from 1,000 acres to 863. The fire which blew up yesterday was expected to expand overnight because of windy weather, but it thankfully did not happen and instead, the acreage shrunk. It was also zero percent contained last night, and this morning the fire agency said they had it 5% surrounded. So fat one structure has burned. The 101 is still closed north of Willits in Mendocino County from the North Willits on-ramp to the 101’s intersection with State Route 162 at Longvale. There is no estimated time for reopening. Winds are unfortunately supposed to pick up this afternoon. There are also mandatory evacuations for the entire Brooktrails area and nobody is allowed to come into the area. The route out is very narrow, and no large rigs will be allowed thru. Mandatory Evacuation Orders — West of the 101 and Main St in Willits to Sherwood Rd, North East of Sherwood Rd to near 2nd Gate rd, south of Schow Road to the 101, East of the 101 extending 1 mile East of Hwy 101. All homes accessed off of Shimmons Ridge Rd., west of Sherwood Rd from Main St in Willits, up to Timber Rd, South of and including homes accessed off of Timber Rd, East of Blue Lake Rd and Ridge Rd including all homes on those roads, and North of Willits City Limits. Evacuation Order, West side of Hwy 101, North of and including homes accessed off Schow Rd., to East of Scherwood Rd near 2nd Gate Rd, and South of and including all houses off of 3rd Gate Rd.

Evacuation centers are open at Willits High School and Baechtel Grove Middle School. Animals are also being evacuated to the high school.  

There was no school in Willits and Laytonville today. Unfortunately, if you need to do banking at the Savings Bank Laytonville Banking Center, it’s also closed. Another fire breaks out in Ukiah… Mendo Fever reporting Ukiah Valley Fire Authority got a call early this morning to a fire in the 850 block of North State Street, to the Redwood Tree Service Station. Police say there was “significant damage” to the building. When firefighters arrived they found fire outside the building and possibly extending inside. Firefighters controlled the exterior fire and went inside, finding flames on the second floor of the building, extinguishing that. The fire is under investigation, no word how it may have started.

Several miles of the 101 north of Willits are still closed due to the Oak fire. The fire started along the west side of the highway yesterday afternoon and exploded in size within hours to 700 acres. Cal Fire had estimated the fire hit 1,000 acres last night, but downgraded it this morning to 863 acres burned. 3,700 people have been ordered to leave their homes and there is no way for them to get back as there’s only one road in. The township of Brooktrails is where the homes are threatened and firefighters are building fire lines with an existing road and a recent vegetation management program. Firefighters took advantage of cooler weather this morning, but winds were expected to kick up later this afternoon into the evening in deep ravines and wooded areas. Drivers cannot get thru the area unless they use long, curvy bypasses. Instead they’re told to use Highway 1 between Leggett and Fort Bragg, then connect to the 101 via Highway 20.

Mendocino County Animal Care has established a site on the south side of the Willits High School for domestic animals. Utilizing the disaster preparedness trailer donated by the Savings Bank of Mendocino County, Animal Care has the capacity to lodge approximately 100 domestic dogs and cats.

Animal Care has resources for larger domestic animals, horses, and livestock at the Willits Junior Horseman’s Association. Larger livestock can be delivered to 901 East Commercial Street in Willits for lodging. 

The entrance to the Animal Care disaster rescue station is marked with signs on North Main Street in Willits, just south of the entrance to the Willits High School.

Smaller domestic animals can be taken to the south end of the Willits High School or can be coordinated through Animal Care to meet with citizens who have domestic animals from the evacuation area. To coordinate a pickup of a domestic animal with Animal Care, please contact the Call Center at 707-234-6052.

Animal Care is also requesting donations of blankets, towels, and sheets for the disaster rescue station. These items can be donated at the Willits High School Agriculture Building. Other monetary donations for animal food can be made at JD Redhouse at 212 S. Main Street in Willits, California.

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