NICE (CBS SF) — Just when firefighters were making progress on a massive fire burning in Mendocino and Lake counties, Mother Nature was preparing to deliver another haymaker with forecasters predicting a triple threat of high winds, soaring temperatures and falling humidity.

The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for the Mendocino Complex Fire area beginning at 11 a.m Friday and running through 11 p.m. Saturday.

“A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly,” the weather service warned. “A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.”

The growing fire already had forced Cal Fire to issue new mandatory evacuation orders for residents living along the western shore of Clear Lake.

The new orders expand the area under mandatory evacuation to west of Lucerne at Bartlett Springs Road and Highway CA-20, south of the fire, east of the fire, north of Clear Lake including the communities of Blue Lakes, Upper Lake, Nice, Lakeport, WitterSprings, Bachelor Valley, Scotts Valley, Saratoga Springs.

While some progress was made overnight on containing portions of the massive Mendocino Complex fire, the blaze’s northward advance into the Mendocino National Forest was almost unabated.

gettyimages 1009513910 Red Flag Warning Issued For Mendocino Complex Fire Area
Firefighters conduct a controlled burn to defend houses against flames from the Ranch fire, as it continues to spreads towards the town of Upper Lake, California on August 2, 2018. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP)

 

The Mendocino Complex Fire consists of two blazes — the River and Ranch fires. The Ranch Fire — the larger of the two — is 15 percent contained while the Ranch Fire is 50 percent.

gettyimages 1009514078 1 Red Flag Warning Issued For Mendocino Complex Fire Area
Firefighters conduct a controlled burn to defend houses against flames from the Ranch fire, as it continues to spreads towards the town of Upper Lake, California on August 2, 2018. (Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP)

 

The two blazes were moving toward each other physically and may combine into one massive blaze that has already burned through more than 110,168 acres, destroyed 12 homes and forced thousands to evacuate.

Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Charlie Blankenheim told a gathering of residents at a meeting in Kelseyville Wednesday night that the Ranch Fire had burned more than 25,000 acres of the national forest.

gettyimages 1009513996 Red Flag Warning Issued For Mendocino Complex Fire Area
Firefighters conduct a controlled burn to defend houses against flames from the Ranch fire, as it continues to spreads towards the town of Upper Lake, California on August 2, 2018.(Photo by Mark RALSTON / AFP)

 

More than 3,000 firefighters are battling the Mendocino Complex and were making some progress in slowing the fire that has been fueled by dry brush and fanned by wind and high temperatures.

“We are making headway and we are feeling optimistic if we can just get a change in the weather,” said Cal Fire spokesperson Sean Kavanaugh. “We’ve been getting these extreme winds in the afternoon that have been hampering our control operations.”

Cal Fire is currently battling two fires that have grown over 100,000 acres. The Carr Fire in Shasta County had grown to 125,842 acres by Thursday morning. It had destroyed 1,060 residences, 18 commercial structures and damaged another 186 homes.

“In past decades, we may have seen fires like we are seeing now in August or September,” said Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott. “We are routinely seeing fires reach 100,000 acres several times in one month.”

Comments
  1. Decades of misguided environmentalism and criminal mismanagement culminated in these firestorms. Governor moonbeam calls this “the new normal.” That guy needs to be kicked out of office for epic ignorance alone!

    CA forests have 4 times the density they should have. Trees are dying, because there simply isn’t enough water to sustain this many trees in such concentration. Bark beetle infestation also doesn’t help.

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