Saturday, December 2, 2023

Weekend Wildfire West of Lake Pillsbury Burns an Acre-and-a-Half— Cause Under Investigation

The Slides Fire burning on the night of February 8, 2022 [Picture from the Lake Pillsbury Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page]

Last Friday, April 8, 2022, multiple agencies converged on a rural road between Potter Valley and Lake Pillsbury within the Mendocino National Forest to fight the Slides Fire. 

Mendocino National Forest’s District Fire Management Officer Terry Nickerson told us firefighters worked the fire throughout that night as winds whipped the area bringing it to containment the following morning.

The fire burned approximately one and a half acres in a mixed conifer and oak woodland environment, Officer Nickerson said, and grew at a moderate rate of spread.

The Slides Fire [Picture provided by Lora Hruby]

As to the cause of the fire, Officer Nickerson explained the fire’s cause is still actively being investigated and could not provide any further information.

The Slides Fire was located approximately two miles west of the Soda Creek Store south of Elk Mountain Road.

News of the wildfire emerged around 5:00 p.m. on Friday afternoon and nearby Forest Service firefighters working on the prescribed burn working along Lake Pillsbury’s western shore were able to deploy to the incident. 

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[Picture from the Lake Pillsbury Fire Department Facebook page]

A Facebook post from the Lake Pillsbury Volunteer Fire Department stated firefighters from their agency were also helping with the prescribed burn on Friday and then answered the call to help with the Slides Fire.

CAL FIRE Mendocino Unit, CAL FIRE  Sonoma/Lake/Napa Unit, and the Lake Pillsbury Volunteer Fire Department provided mutual aid for the fire as well.

At this point, the fire is out but personnel are still regularly patrolling the area to watch for any flare-ups.

The Slides Fire burning up a hillside [Picture provided by a reader on location of the incident]

Reflecting on the incident, Nickerson said the Mendocino National Forest, like the rest of Northern California, is in the midst of a megadrought resulting in four “extremely active” fire seasons. 

He recommended that the Slides Fire be a reminder of the immediate need for residents of rural Northern California to maintain defensible space around their homes and be prepared for any evacuations.

Lake Pillsbury Volunteer Fire Department is staffed by a group of hearty firefighters charged with responding to fires, medical emergencies, and other incidents throughout the Lake Pillsbury region. Volunteer rural firefighters are one of the essential services of life in Mendocino County. If you are able, consider donating to their efforts here.

UPDATE 1:22 p.m.: The following press release was issued by the Mendocino National Forest regarding the Incident:

On April 8 around 5:30 p.m., the Slide Fire started on the Upper Lake Ranger District, approximately 2.3 miles west of Soda Creek Station and south of Elk Mountain Road. Investigators say the fire was human-caused and not related to the nearby Westshore prescribed burn. The Slide Fire is contained at 100%.

Shortly after forest law enforcement identified a column of smoke, resources that were managing the Westshore prescribed burn shifted over to respond to the Slide Fire. Engines from Mendocino National Forest, Lake Pillsbury, CAL FIRE Lake Napa Unit and Konocti Crew 2 helped contain the fire.

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On April 8 at 10 p.m., firefighters reported the Slide Fire size was being held at 1.5 acres. Crews will continue to mop up and patrol the fire this week.

Also on April 8 around 10:50 a.m., firefighters patrolling the Westshore prescribed fire reported a tree had fallen across the containment line for the prescribed fire. Crews are continuing to patrol and mop up.

A steady, wetting rain fell early Monday morning, and fire behavior is minimal at this time.

Additional updates will be provided when there are significant changes in fire activity or conditions.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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