LAKEPORT, Calif. – With nearby residents advised to be ready to evacuate, a wildland fire continued to burn up vegetation in a rugged area northwest of Lakeport on Sunday.
The Scotts Fire had reached 4,100 acres by Sunday evening, with firefighters containing 15 percent of the blaze, burning on Cow Mountain west of Scotts Valley Road and east of Ukiah since Friday afternoon.
Cal Fire spokesman Mike Carr said firefighters had made good progress and built a lot of containment line throughout Saturday and Sunday, with the fire expected to be fully contained on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Officials had issued an evacuation warning for Scotts Valley Road, between Highway 20 south and the northern intersection with Hendricks Road late Sunday morning. Hendricks Road was not included.
Lake County Deputy Administrative Officer Debra Sommerfield said Sunday evening that it was still a warning and not yet an order to evacuate.
Red Cross set up an evacuation shelter in preparation for a full order at the Lakeport Senior Center, 527 Konocti Ave. On Friday evening Red Cross had briefly opened a shelter at Upper Lake High School after Blue Lakes area residents had been ordered to evacuate; they were allowed to return home later that night.
Altogether, a total of 340 structures remained threatened Sunday, with the fire one mile from both Scotts Valley Road and Blue Lakes, according to Cal Fire.
Carr said there were two flanks – the east and the west – which were moving laterally.
The part of the fire that had been moving north toward Blue Lakes “had been reduced considerably” by Sunday, he said.
He said the concern had shifted toward the part of the fire burning toward Scotts Valley Road to the east and the one moving toward Cow Mountain to the west.
Base camp for the incident is at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Martin Street in Lakeport, where Cal Fire had based its operations for the Wye Fires in August.
The Cal Fire Incident Management Team in charge of the incident is led by Cal Fire Division Chief Eric Hoffman, who also was incident commander for the Wye Fire.
|A DC-10 works the Scotts Fire northwest of Lakeport, Calif., on Sunday, September 9, 2012. Photo by Russell Bishop.|
Cal Fire and cooperating agencies – including local fire districts from Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma counties – continued to bulk up the number of personnel on scene, which totaled 1,340 on Sunday night. Radio traffic indicated calls for additional out-of-area strike teams to respond to the incident.
Resources on scene included 131 engines, 39 fire crews, 11 helicopters, 26 bulldozers and 20 water tenders, according to Cal Fire.
Due to the difficulty in accessing the fire from the ground, air resources continued to be heavily utilized in the firefighting effort, with a DC-10 and helicopters conducting numerous drops.
Since the fire started, a low supply of retardant at the Ukiah airbase had forced tankers to go to Sonoma to be refilled. Reports from the scene indicated a new shipment of retardant was set to arrive in Ukiah Sunday afternoon, with Ukiah reopened for reloading tankers shortly after 5 p.m.
Lampson Field in Lakeport was being used as a base of operations for Cal Fire air resources. Effective at 7 a.m. Sunday the airport had been closed to general aviation traffic, based on an order issued by the Lake County Department of Public Works on Saturday, as Lake County News has reported.
Another challenge for firefighters on Sunday were gusting winds which, along with low humidity, was the focus of a red flag warning the National Weather Service issued for Lake County.
The winds were pushing the western flank over Lyons Creek to Scotts Creek Sunday evening, according to fire officials.
Radio traffic shortly after 7 p.m. indicated dozer lines had been built into the Scotts Creek area, with plans for the dozers to work throughout the night to make it to the next ridge in order to cut off further advance of the fire.
Retardant lines also had reportedly been set down along the western side of the fire, according to radio reports.
The smoke from the Scotts Fire hung thickly in the air Sunday, and turned the evening sky red.
Lake County Air Quality Management issued an alert warning of “unhealthy” air quality conditions on Monday, with the possibility of “hazardous” conditions if winds continued in the area.
On Sunday evening Highway 20 remained open between Upper Lake and Ukiah.
There was controlled traffic on Scotts Valley Road, which was to be open to residents only.
In addition, Cal Fire said the Cow Mountain Recreation Area has been closed at both the Scotts Creek and Mill Creek entrances, the Mendo Rock Road access to North Cow Mountain Road was closed at Mill Creek, and Mill Creek Road was closed, as were Glen Eden and Valley View trails.
Cooperating agencies on the fire Sunday included Cal Fire; Lake, Mendocino and Sonoma County fire agencies; Bureau of Land Management; Mendocino and Lake County Sheriff’s offices; California National Guard; Red Cross; California Emergency Management Agency; Pacific Gas & Electric Co; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; California Department of Fish and Game; Caltrans; and Lake County Department of Public Works.
McKenzie Paine of Velocity Video contributed to this report.
Email Elizabeth Larson at email@example.com .
Firefighters from around California were staged at the base camp at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Lakeport, Calif., on Sunday, September 9, 2012. Photo by Russell Bishop.