Sunday, 14 July 2024

Wildfire smoke settles over Lake County

LAKE COUNTY – Brilliantly blue skies over Lake County Wednesday became a hazy mess as an early afternoon cloud of smoke was seen crawling over the horizon.

By evening, the county was so socked in with smoke that Mt. Konocti was difficult to see from across the lake and even from nearby homes, according to area residents.

Wildland fires burning around Northern California are the cause of Lake County's smoky skies, according to reports from Forest Service, Cal Fire and the National Weather Service.

The Northern Sacramento Valley on Wednesday morning had a thick haze of smoke hovering over it, with reports throughout the day that the valley's haze came from the Moonlight Fire, burning in the Plumas and Lassen National Forests in northeastern California.

The National Weather Service reported that northeasterly wind flow across the northern Sierra Nevada and the western foothills was spreading considerable amounts of smoke from the Moonlight Fire into the Sierra's northern foothills, across the central and southern portion of Sacramento County, the northern San Joaquin Valley and into the Sacramento Bay-Delta.

The Moonlight Fire, located about 12 miles southwest of Susanville, has burned 18,500 acres since it began Monday afternoon. It was only five percent contained on Wednesday evening, according to a report from Cal Fire and the National Forest Service. The fire's cause has yet to be determined.

Officials reported that winds from the northeast were pushing the fire to the south and southeast; those same winds also were responsible for pushing smoke into the Sacramento Valley and then across into Lake County, according to Cal Fire.

At the same time, the Yolla Bolly Complex, located 20 air miles northeast of Covelo, continued to burn Wednesday, and officials warned of smoke traveling to the Sacramento Valley and outlying areas.

As Lake County News previously reported, the Yolla Bolly Complex – composed of several fires in a portion of the Mendocino National Forest and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest – was ignited by lightning strikes Aug. 29.

Mendocino Forest spokesperson Punky Moore reported that forest officials had issued a red flag warning due to strong, gusty northeast winds on the complex, which were hampering firefighting efforts and pushing smoke south.

The Yolla Bolly Complex is close to 300 acres in size, according to Moore. No report on its percent of containment was available.

Strong winds also were affecting efforts to battle the Lazy Fire, part of the lightning-caused Yolla Bolly Complex burning in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, according to a Forest Service report. The 500-acre fire was 30 percent contained Wednesday, with full containment expected Sunday.

The National Weather Service forecast north winds through Thursday over the fire area, which could push the fire south onto the Mendocino National Forest, with smoke moving over the northern Sacramento Valley.

Smoky conditions, the National Weather Service reported, are expected to persist until midday Thursday, when prevailing winds are expected to shift, allowing conditions to improve.

People with vulnerable respiratory systems are advised to take precautions, including staying indoors and avoiding strenuous physical activity, until the smoke clears, the National Weather Service advised.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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