Containment at the Mendocino Complex fires improved as fire officials overnight focused crews on stubborn conditions along the northern flank of the largest fire in state history. However, firefighters were gearing up for the possibility of winds bolstered by hot, dry conditions Saturday afternoon, and a red flag warning is in effect through Saturday night.
Crews found success in suppressing the blaze along its western edge, bringing the fire back into the Mendocino National Forest, according to Cal Fire. As of Saturday morning, the complex, which consists of two fires in mainly mountainous terrain near Clear Lake, had chewed through 325,226 acres (508 square miles) and was 67 percent contained.
The larger Ranch Fire’s northern line continued to spread at an active rate overnight, and crews are continuing to work on controlling the fire line within Mendocino National Forest on its west and east perimeters, Cal Fire said. In all, the larger fire has burned 276,306 acres and is 58 percent contained.
The smaller River Fire’s total footprint remains controlled at 48,920 acres and has now reached 92 percent containment.
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The Sutter Lakeside Hospital and emergency room in Lakeport reopened Friday afternoon, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. The Sutter Lakeside Clinic and physicians’ offices will reopen Monday, the agency said.
On Friday night, the Sheriff’s Office lifted evacuations for residents below the fire lines north of Clear Lake, east of Highway 29 and west of the Lake-Colusa county line. Elk Mountain Road heading into the Mendocino National Forest was also reopened.
Cal Fire still anticipates full containment of the complex by Sept. 1. The two fires began July 27 in eastern Mendocino County and burned across northern Lake County on into Colusa County. Officials have 3,521 personnel assigned to the blaze, along with 293 engines, 92 water tenders, 20 helicopters and 80 bulldozers. Air tankers are also expected to be utilized through the day as conditions allow.
Over 1,500 buildings remain threatened, down significantly from the more than 9,000 structures that were considered at risk Friday. The fires have destroyed at least 139 homes and 119 other structures and damaged at least 37 structures.
Some evacuation orders and advisories as well as road closures remain in place throughout Lake, Mendocino and Colusa counties. Parts of Glenn County are also under an evacuation warning. The latest updates are available on the Cal Fire incident information page at www.fire.ca.gov.