June 24, 2024

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Here’s the latest on Beckwourth Fire and 3 other major blazes

Four major wildfires continue to burn in Northern California amid triple-digit temperatures and have already burned thousands of acres of fuel and destroyed several homes.

The largest among these is now the Beckwourth Complex, two fires burning 45 miles north of Lake Tahoe in Plumas County. The fire has seen rapid growth, outpacing the Lava Fire to become the largest active fire in Northern California as well as the largest in California this year.

While containment has been improving on the Salt, Lava and Tennant fires, the Beckwourth Complex fires is still threatening homes in eastern Plumas County. Between these four fires, more than 100,000 acres have been burned.

Here are updates on Northern California’s largest blazes, as of 11 a.m. Saturday:

Beckwourth Complex

The Beckwourth Complex fires, located between the small community of Beckwourth in Plumas County and the Nevada state line, have burned 55,091 acres and are 9% contained.

The complex is comprised of the Dotta Fire, which started on June 30, and the Sugar Fire, which started on July 2, and both were sparked by lightning.

After U.S. Forest Service officials previously said that the fires would soon be under control, they were whipped up by hot winds, pushing the Sugar Fire to grow by eight times its size on Thursday. Fire lines were forced back and containment plummeted from 30% down to 9%.

The Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, burns in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

The Sugar Fire, part of the Beckwourth Complex Fire, burns in Plumas National Forest, Calif., on Friday, July 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Between Friday and Saturday morning, the complex more than doubled its span, going from about 25,000 acres to its current size. That growth was attributed to the Sugar Fire, as the Dotta Fire remains stagnant. The Dotta Fire is only 670 acres in size, and is 80% contained.

“This extreme fire behavior is due to several factors coming alignment with critically dry and receptive fuels, hot temperatures, topography arrangement and southwest winds funneling through them,” U.S. Forest Service officials said in a Saturday morning update.

Evacuation orders remain in place for parts of Plumas County. Communities in Dixie Valley were told to leave as the fire surged on Thursday, and several roads are still shut down in the fire zone. U.S. Forest Service officials said communities near Doyle Grade Road and Constantia Road have been evacuated, as the Sugar Fire is spotting within a mile of the area. Additional evacuations were ordered in Nevada’s Washoe County

No official reports have yet been released regarding property damages in the Beckwourth complex, officials said that a damage assessment team has been sent out.

Fire officials said that Saturday is expected to be even hotter and dryer, although winds will be less extreme, with gusts of 20 miles per hour predicted. More than 1,255 fire personnel are assigned to the Beckwourth Complex.

Beckwourth Complex live map

Source: National Interagency Fire Center

Salt Fire

The Salt Fire started on June 30 just south of Lakehead in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and has burned 12,650 acres. It is 55% contained, up by 10% from Friday.

No new fire spread occurred overnight, according to the U.S. Forest Service, and several evacuation orders have been eased as crews get a handle on the wildfire.

“Fire activity is currently limited to isolated smoldering pockets within the interior of the fire perimeter,” a Saturday morning update read. “Crews continue to complete and strengthen containment lines in all areas of the fire and also address interior areas of lingering heat. As the fire enters the next stage, crews will begin the process of mop up.”

Fire staffing has been decreased as the Salt Fire winds down. There are currently less than 1,000 personnel assigned to the fire.

The Forest Service said, however, that due to extremely dry conditions, there remains a high chance of further fire starts in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

The latest damage assessment estimates that 24 homes and 14 outbuildings have been destroyed and four other outbuildings have been damaged.

The fire is believed to have been started by a faulty vehicle driving along northbound Interstate 5.

Salt Fire live map

Source: National Interagency Fire Center

Lava Fire

The Lava Fire was sparked by lightning on June 24 in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, 3½ miles northeast of Weed in Siskiyou County, and has burned 25,164 acres. It is 75% contained.

Up until Friday, the Lava Fire was the largest active fire in the state, before the Beckwourth Complex’s Sugar Fire exploded in size.

Forest officials said that no significant growth has been observed in the Lava Fire for several days, and containment continues to inch forward. Overnight, 5% more was added to the overall containment as crews worked on mopping up the blaze.

The fire has proved destructive, however. The Forest Service estimates that 23 structures have been destroyed, including 14 homes, and one additional structure was damaged. Six firefighters have been hurt while fighting the blaze.

Cannabis farmers in the area, many of whom are Hmong, say their greenhouses have been burned by the fire. One Hmong man was shot to death by law enforcement on June 28 amid tensions between officials and the Hmong community.

Lava Fire live map

Source: National Interagency Fire Center

Tennant Fire

The Tennant Fire started on June 28 in Klamath National Forest, 3 miles northwest of Bray in Siskiyou County, and has burned 10,580 acres. The fire is 93% contained.

Crews are working on isolating the fire and mopping up any remaining hot spots, but officials are still bracing for potential fire starts in the days ahead.

“With the upcoming heat wave combined with critically dry fuels, it is anticipated that there could be flare ups within the interior of the fire perimeter, but they should not pose a threat to the control line,” the Forest Service said in a Friday update.

All evacuation orders have been downgraded to evacuation warnings, some of which remain in place in areas surrounding the fire.

The Tennant Fire destroyed one home, one commercial building and one outbuilding, although no injuries or deaths have been reported.

Earlier this week, a firenado stemming from the Tennant Fire was caught on camera swirling above the flames.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Tennant Fire live map

Source: National Interagency Fire Center

The Sacramento Bee’s Amelia Davidson and Zaeem Shaikh contributed to this story.