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Mendocino County fire scorches 3,400 acres

A northern Mendocino County wildfire burned more than 1,000 acres from Saturday night through Monday, growing to 3,400 acres overall, Cal Fire officials said.

The blaze, dubbed the Lodge Lightning Complex, is running through heavy timber in the Elkhorn Ridge Wilderness and Eel River Canyon areas northwest of Laytonville. It has grown steadily since lightning sparked a series of fires in the area Wednesday.

Steep, rugged terrain and difficult access, in addition to severe drought conditions, has challenged firefighters, Cal Fire spokeswoman Julie Cooley said Monday. The average gradient of the hills in that area is 70 percent, making it extremely difficult for crews to build fire lines, she said.

Still, cool temperatures allowed firefighters to make some headway Sunday night, with the blaze now at 15 percent containment, up from 10 percent several days ago. About 17 structures, a mix of homes and outbuildings at the north end of Branscomb Road, are threatened, Cooley said.

So far, there are no mandatory evacuations.

“That doesn’t mean there won’t be any in the future,” she said.

About 150 people showed up at a community meeting about the blaze held Monday afternoon in Laytonville where fire and weather officials gave a briefing and answered questions. Cooley said officials stressed the importance of staying informed in case evacuations are ordered.

“It was a good showing for a Monday afternoon, especially as we weren’t able to give much notice,” she said. “It’s important that people check the news and the radios for updates. We’re going to plan more meetings as needed.”

More than 900 fire personnel continue to attack the fire from the air and by land, officials said. Fire crews are removing dead vegetation around homes in the Horseshoe Bend area.

Cal Fire is fighting the blaze with help from Laytonville Fire, the Bureau of Land Management, the California Department of Corrections, the California National Guard, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, and the California Conservation Corps. They’ve dispatched 31 fire engines, 25 fire crews, 14 helicopters, 22 bulldozers and 24 water tenders.

Staff writer Elizabeth M. Cosin contributed to this story.


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