Fires Continue in California
Fires continue to burn across Northern California as seen in this MODIS image taken on August 19, 2012.
The Chips Fire in California has been burning since the end of July. It is currently 32% contained and has affected over 47,000 acres. The cause of this fire is under investigation at this point. Last night (August 19), crews completed several successful burnout operations. As the fire made a push to the north and north-east in the Clear Creek drainage, fire managers were able to complete firing operations when timing was crucial. Fire Managers conduct firing operations at night to take advantage of the moderated fire behavior and lower relative humidity which increases the ability to control fire put on the ground. Fire managers are prepared for a fire weather watch that has been issued for Tuesday (August 21). The projected date for full containment is August 31, 2012.
The Reading Fire, north of the Chips Fire, began July 23 with a lightning strike. To date, over 27,000 acres have been affected. The Reading Fire is 51% contained and the full containment projection date is August 21, 2012. To note, when referring to a fire, the difference between a fire being contained or controlled can be unclear. When a fire is contained a fuel break had been completed around the fire manually by hand line, and/or mechanically by dozer line. These breaks may also include the use of natural barriers such as rocky outcroppings. When a fire has been controlled, the fireline is secure enough so that flare-ups within the fire perimeter will not break through the line. Therefore, just because a line is contained does not mean that the fire is controlled.
The Mill Fire started on August 13, 2012, is currently burning over 1,600 acres. It is 45% contained. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Progress continues to be made on building fire lines on the steep and rugged northeast perimeter. Spot fires remain a significant problem. Firefighters will continue to expand and improve fire lines throughout the fire area. Fire behavior is being influenced by up-canyon winds.
The Rush Fire which straddles the California-Nevada state line started August 12 with a lightning strike. The fire is located on Bureau of Land Management, Northern California District, Eagle Lake Field Office, approximately 15 miles southeast of Ravendale, California. The fire is burning near a major natural gas line and transfer station, and power transmission lines that supply the Reno area and continues to spread rapidly to the northeast and southeast. It is 30% contained and has burned over 204,000 acres. Possible thunderstorm activity is in the forecast for the next two-three days. This fire has showed significant growth from thunder cell downdrafts on several occasions. In the Medicino National Forest the Pass Fire broke out August 18 after a lightning strike. Currently, 5,000 acres are affected and this fire is 10% contained. There is limited access to fire activity due to steep terrain. The fire is moving east and southeast.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this image. Red outlines indicate hot spots where MODIS detected unusually warm surface temperatures associated with fires.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner. with information from inciweb.org and http://www.fire.ca.gov/