As of 1:51 p.m., scanner traffic indicates a vegetation fire is burning in area of the Bell Springs Road and Foster Creek Road east of Leggett and north of Laytonville. (A second fire is burning south of Laytonville also. We’ll link here when we get a story.)
The reporting party told dispatch the fire has produced a large column of smoke and first responders are estimating the fire is currently 10 acres in size.
A Laytonville firefighter reported there is a “pretty good column showing” from his vantage point along Highway 101 at mile marker 75.0 and suggested Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office personnel should be contacted to initiate evacuations.
Firefighters are accessing the fire via the 59000 block of Bell Springs Road.
UPDATE 2:16 p.m.: Several firefighting aircraft are currently above the fire as seen in this screenshot from FlightRadar24.com.
UPDATE 2:23 p.m.: The Incident Commander reported Bell Fire is “spreading moderately” and requested a fire activity advisory be communicated to residents near the fire.
Related to the Bell Fire, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office had minutes before the incident commander requested expanded advisories sent out a Nixle alert to nearby resident describing “Fire Activity on Twin Pines Road” encouraging nearby residents to use caution.
UPDATE 2:29 p.m.: Some of the fire resources responding to the Bell Springs Fire were diverted south of Laytonville regarding a bull dozer on fire along Highway 101. MCSO issued a Nixle warning of fire activity in the area and the Incident Commander characterized the fire has under control.
UPDATE 2:39 p.m.: Fire crews are still working to access the Bell Fire. The Incident Commander reported Cal Fire personnel had eyes on the fire between the fire on the hillside between Foster Creek and Bell Springs.
UPDATE 2:43 p.m.: The Incident Commander said the Bell Fire is currently at 50 acres, described it as “smoke-driven,” is burning in heavy timber, and actively threatening several structures.
UPDATE 2:55 p.m.: Evacuation warnings have officially been issued by the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office in the area of Bell Springs Road and Foster Creek Road. MCSO asks residents to “use situational awareness” and be “cautious of fire and law personnel in the area.”
Also, scanner traffic indicates two Individuals are being held at the intersection of Highway 101 and Bell Springs “running from the Bell Incident.”
UPDATE 3:16 p.m.: Scanner traffic indicates that hi/lo sirens are being used to warn residents near the Bell Fire of evacuation warnings that have been initiated.
A firefighter described the fire being pushed into the direction of the northeast corner of Mendocino County potentially crossing over into Humboldt County based on the direction it is currently burning.
Also, a law enforcement officer was heard on the scanner clarifying that the detained individuals were not related to the Bell Fire, but possibly some sort of vehicle pursuit in the nearby area.
UPDATE 3:23 p.m.: The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has upgraded the evacuation warning to an evacuation order:
Evacuation Order for the Foster Creek Road/Bell Springs Road area. All surrounding residents of near the top of the hill to 58900 block of North Highway 101 are instructed to safely evacuate the area. Please use use caution and continue to use situational awareness.
UPDATE 3:33 p.m.: Bell Springs Rd is being closed in the fire area.
UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: This image of the Bell Fire was captured by a resident of Bell Springs Road approximately three miles up the road, as they described.
UPDATE 3:48 p.m.: The Incident Commander modified reported the fire is approximately 30 acres, modifying the original 50 acres that was reported. The Bell Fire was described as growing at a moderate rate of spread, and is traveling east towards the Bell Springs area.
UPDATE 5:08 p.m.: The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office posted on their Facebook page that “arrangements are being made at this time to establish sheltering for those impacted by the Bell Fire in Laytonville.” They added that information will be provided once the shelter is open and staffed.”
UPDATE 5:15 p.m.: KMUD’s Lauren Schmitt told us that the evacuation center for those affected by the Bell Fire will be Harwood Hall in Laytonville at 44400 Willis Ave, Laytonville, CA.
UPDATE 5:29 p.m.: The California Highway Patrol is making sure vehicles don’t attempt to enter Bell Springs Road which is closed. In addition, semis are dropping off dozers.
5:31 p.m.: The Incident Commander reported the Bell Fire’s forward progress has been stopped.
A Tweet from CalFire Mendocino is now stating the Bell Fire grew to 50 acres in size, which was originally reported, then amended to 30, and has returned to the original report yet again.
Jayma Shields Spence, a Laytonville resident, told us she is at Harwood Hall now unofficially with bathrooms, water, and snacks waiting for Mendocino County to send a shelter manager to officially open the shelter. The county is requesting evacuees remain in their vehicles as of now and when the shelter manager arrives evacuees will be required to participate in a COVID screening before entering the shelter.
Spence also told use the Laytonville Rodeo grounds are available for anyone evacuating with their animals.
UPDATE 6:15 p.m.: The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office has announced that the evacuation orders have been reduced to warnings adding that “repopulation may now begin.” MCSO asks residents to use situational awareness when returning to their homes.
UPDATE 8:54 p.m.: The Evacuation shelter at Harwood Hall in Laytonville is now closed because the Evacuation Order was rescinded.
UPDATE 9:41 p.m.: MCSO sent out a Nixel alert stating, “Evacuation Warning has been lifted for Bell Springs Road area. Fire Personnel will remain in the area. nixle.us/CZTKC“
Please remember that this story is unfolding. Information is being reported as we gather it. However, some of the information coming from witnesses and initial official reports could be wrong. We will do our best to get the facts but, in the case that something is inaccurate, we will update with correct information as soon as we can