This afternoon beginning at approximately 3:22 p.m. the Gap Fire began to burn along the 1500 block of Low Gap Road west of Ukiah. Cal Fire Batallion Chief Alex Leonard told us the fire topped out at three acres after starting along the roadside, running uphill into dry grasses, lighting both brush and trees and by 4:15 p.m. the fire’s forward progress was stopped.
Despite recent rains, Battalion Chief Leonard explained, the fire moved quickly through grasses dried out by high temperatures and winds. He pointed out an oak tree that had been able to retain some of the moisture from recent rains that were actively spewing smoke from one of its main trunks as fire smoldered inside.
A spotter plane, an air tanker, and a helicopter bucket were deployed as air resources and working the fire to suppress the spread from above.
Battalion Chief Leonard told us that 8 fire engines, 1 water tender, 1 dozer, 3 fire crews, and 2 Chief Officers responded to the incident. The fire was Cal Fire’s jurisdiction while agencies including Ukiah Valley Fire Authority and the California Conservation Corps assisted with the incident. Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the Ukiah Police Department were manning Low Gap Road for through traffic throughout the incident.
The Ukiah Unified School District posted on their Facebook page at approximately 3:30 p.m. directing parents to pick up their students to avoid Low Gap Road. This is the main road first responders were using to access the fire.
As of 5:47 p.m., fire personnel are still onsite addressing spot fires and flare-ups.
The incident reminded Battalion Chief Leonard of the importance of ensuring “vehicles are in good working condition with no mechanical faults, dragging chains.” With current drought conditions, he encouraged residents to be “hypersensitive” to their vehicle and any potential of sparking a flame.