Slowly but steadily growing, the Lodge Lightning Complex fire in Mendocino County now has burned 4,300 acres of forest at a firefighting cost of $5.4 million, according to Cal Fire.
A survey Wednesday by Cal Fire officials showed that flames have spread east along the Eel River canyon and were within one mile of the Big Bend Lodge area, along Low Gap creek.
The number of structures threatened Wednesday more than doubled to 43, up from 17 structures in the path of the fire on Tuesday.
The firefighting force is also growing. By Wednesday evening it was at 1,570 personnel — an increase of about 500 from the previous day.
Firefighters have made some progress on the difficult blaze, increasing containment to 20 percent. Efforts Wednesday included firefighters cutting fuel breaks across the north side of the flames.
Lightning storms last week sparked several Northern California fires that resulted in thousands of firefighters scrambling from throughout California and neighboring states to respond. Dozens of North Bay firefighters are working on fires from Mendocino County to the top of the state.
The Mendocino County fire complex was ignited by lightning strikes at dawn on June 30. The three fires northwest of Laytonville have mainly been burning in remote Bureau of Land Management wilderness, including steep, forested mountainsides and deep canyons.
The area has few roads and firefighters are unable to approach the blaze with engines. Hiking in is difficult due to the steep grades.
Flames have moved into private timber stands and at least some of the threatened structures are on a UC Berkeley conservation property used for environmental studies.
“We do have approximately 50 acres now involved in the fire with several hundred that are threatened,” said John Andersen, director of forest operations for Mendocino Redwood Company, based in Ukiah.