Firefighters continue work to strengthen several existing containment lines, develop new lines and extinguish several interior hot spots in an attempt to prevent further spread of the North Complex Fire, according to CalFire.
As of Tuesday, the complex that has been burning in Plumas and Butte counties since Aug. 17 had burned approximately 269,218 acres and was 39 percent contained. The West Zone of the fire, which is the portion that threatens several communities in the Yuba County foothills, had burned 76,900 acres and was 25 percent contained as of Tuesday.
Yuba County Sheriff’s Office personnel said that CalFire had reported favorable weather conditions overnight Monday and into Tuesday which enabled them to use more resources from the air and gave them a huge advantage in Tuesday’s firefighting efforts.
“We are hearing positive reports and are hoping for the best on this day seven of evacuations in our county,” Yuba County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Tuesday. “They report they have high confidence in their southern lines on this blaze and with the added resources are optimistic in their anticipated progress today.”
To date, 15 civilian deaths and injuries have been reported in the complex and one firefighter was reported to have received injuries due to the rugged terrain where the fire is burning. An estimated 23,356 structures have been threatened, 50 structures have been damaged and 706 structures have been destroyed.
CalFire officials reported on Monday that the Willows Fire, which was a grass fire that ignited in the Yuba County Foothills in the early morning hours of Sept. 9, had been fully contained. That fire burned 1,311 acres and was the second of two fires included in the North Complex.
Evacuation orders are still in effect in Yuba Zone 1 (the area east of New York Road, south of the county line and west and north of LaPorte Road), Yuba Zone 2 (the area west of of Bullards Bar Lake, east of La Porte Road, south of the county line and north Bullards Bar Road and Fountainhouse Road), Yuba Zone 3C (the area north of Caroline Road, south of the county line, east of New York Flat Road and areas east of Forbestown Road) and Yuba Zone 7 (the area west of Bean Clipper Road and La Porte Road, south of the county line, east of the county line and north of Moran Road).
Communities north and east of Brownsville to the county border remain under an evacuation order at this time, according to CalFire. That area includes Challenge, Forbestown, Woodleaf, Clipper Mills and Strawberry Valley.
John Nicoletti, deputy director of Habitat for Humanity Yuba-Sutter, said that while the North Complex Fire is still burning, evacuation sites in the Yuba-Sutter area have been shut down.
“Animal care is still happening but the numbers are decreasing rapidly as owners are picking up,” said Nicoletti.
According to Nicoletti, Habitat for Humanity is offering evacuees dry camp space within the Humanity ReStore parking lot at no cost in addition to laundry and shower facilities. Those with RVs can also get a gift card from the Yuba County Office of Emergency Services to be used at a camp facility, said Nicoletti.
“In the event that there is a flair-up, Nicoletti said Habitat along with several other community organizations will resume emergency response services accordingly.
In August, President Donald Trump granted a Major Disaster Declaration for California making FEMA assistance available to help people and communities recovering from wildfires that occurred on or after Aug. 14. The declaration has since been amended to include Butte, Placer and Yuba counties after the North Complex fire ignited.
Those who have suffered losses due to the fire are encouraged to apply for FEMA assistance in addition to filing insurance claims. To apply, visit www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-3362.
Several United States Post Offices across the state have been closed due to the threat of nearby wildfires. In Yuba County, closures include the Clipper Mills Post Office, the Challenge Post Office, the Forbestown Post Office and the Rackerby Post Office.
Beginning today (Wednesday), customers of those facilities are advised to go to the Brownsville Post Office, 8975 Frenchtown Ext., to pick up their mail. Proof of identification is required at the time of pick-up to receive mail and packages.
The Feather River Air Quality Management District and the Bi-county Health Department have extended an air quality health advisory through Thursday, in response to the poor air quality conditions throughout the region from wildfire smoke.
As of Tuesday, air quality in the Yuba-Sutter region was listed as unhealthy, according to www.airnow.gov, and is expected to stay at that level for at least the next few days.
“Southerly winds may bring some relief in the afternoons this week, however conditions will likely worsen overnight as winds die down,” it was stated in a coordinated release issued by the three departments.
Air quality in some parts of the Yuba-Sutter-Colusa region reached extremely unhealthy levels over the weekend.
According to the release, a weak weather front arriving on Thursday may bring some improvement to air quality conditions.
“The Sutter and Yuba Public Health Departments advise residents with lung or heart disease, and the elderly to leave areas where levels of particulate matter are high,” it was stated in the release. “For everyone else, when you smell smoke, or see smoke around you, you should consider staying indoors and avoiding heavy exertion.