Here’s a quick take on the latest news about the active fires in Sonoma County, plus news from Mendocino, Lake and other North Bay counties.
Progress on containment in the Sonoma County fires Saturday night according to Cal Fire officials:
Tubbs fire: 50 percent containment and 35,470 acres burned;
Pocket fire: 15 percent containment and 11,246 acres burned;
Nuns fire: 15 percent containment and 47,106 acres burned;
Oakmont fire: 10 percent containment and 550 acres burned.
In all the fires totaled 94,372 acres.
Mendocino County’s Redwood fire was bigger Saturday night by about 1,000 acres but firefighters now have it 30 percent contained, Cal Fire said Saturday night.
The fire, which burned the north end of Redwood Valley and the southern end of Potter Valley and so far has killed eight people, reached 35,000 acres Saturday night. As many as 8,000 structures remain threatened.
Officials said significant progress was made on containment lines in the last 24 hours. Firefighters continued to finish off hot spots around burned homes, a significant step in blunting their potential to flare. The southwest perimeter was continuing to hold.
Currently about 2,000 people have evacuated from the Redwood fire.
The firefighting effort Saturday was up to 2,415 people, with a small percentage of those wrapping up the Sulphur fire in Clearlake.
Saturday officials had downsized the Sulphur fire to 2,207 acres from earlier calculations of 2,500 acres from more accurate mapping. They considered it 70 percent contained.
That fire destroyed more than 150 homes in Clearlake. All evacuated people in Clearlake have been allowed home and some in the Redwood fire also have seen lifted evacuations.
About 30 firefighters Saturday night drove to the top of 4,341-foot Mount St. Helena and started a mountain scramble down the southwest side, working the edges of an arm of the huge Tubbs fire trying to push its way farther into Lake County, one of its flanks that also include Sonoma and Napa counties.
Lit by headlamps and carrying chainsaws, their job was to cut away thick brush in the fire’s path in an attempt to starve it of some of the huge amounts of dry, thick fuel it’s consumed now in three counties.
It’s standard tactics – a night attack by hand crews. Night is when a fire typically lays down from cooler weather — unless winds are high — providing firefighters their best hours to make a dent in a wildland blaze.
Saturday night’s winds still could be a problem, especially so far up the mountain. But the forecast was better than Friday night.
Firefighters faced a slow going, 3-mile or so hike Saturday night along the edge of the fire to the bottom and hoped with dawn and good weather, aircraft would move in and “beat up on it,” with retardant, said Greg Bertelli, a Cal Fire division chief helping run the north end of the fire.
The Mount St. Helena stretch of the deadly Tubbs has been one of the more active fronts in a fire that last week obliterated thousands of Santa Rosa homes in one direction, burned passed Calistoga in Napa County in another and continues moving farther into Lake County.