Sunday, July 21, 2024

A Controlled Burn in Humboldt County Darkens the Skies of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties

Ukiah Valley [All photographs from Alert Wildfire Camera]

CAL FIRE and California State Parks are conducting a prescribed burn in Humboldt Redwood State Park intended to address 450 acres of the forest understory. While firefighters manage the flames, Mendocino County is getting hit with smoke.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Scott Carroll has analyzed the skies of the North Coast for 11 years. He told us the smoke output from the prescribed burn is being pushed directly toward Mendocino County.

Images from Alert Wildfire Cameras show dark smoke hovering over Laytonville, the Ukiah Valley, Redwood Valley, Sanel Valley and continuing south into Sonoma County’s interior valleys all the way to Santa Rosa.

Carroll told us forecasts point towards an evening inversion layer that will push the smoke toward valley floors. The inversion layer combined with the minimal wind forecasted suggests the smoke will stay with us into tomorrow, if not longer.

PurpleAir.com indicates that the majority of Mendocino County’s air quality is “unhealthy” meaning “Some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.”

The National Weather Service’s Smoke Forecast graphic shows the North Bay counties from Mendocino to Marin in the direct path of the controlled burn’s smoke.

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For some good news, rain is predicted Monday night.

UPDATE 3:06 p.m.: This photograph was sent to us by a Potter Valley resident who lives above the Eel River. He told us due to the current smoke conditions, he could barely go outside.

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    • Imagine what happens when you let the forest material build up for decades and a spark lights it up during Diablo winds event that causes the fires to move as fast as the wind 50mph, imagine the death and complete annihilation that would cause….. o wait we don’t have to imagine cause it’s happened and keeps happening. Short sided views like yours has caused the situation we are in now. thanks.

      • much like a lobotomy keeps crazy people from doing harm. Controled burns should always be small and its never OK to make bad air over large areas
        Remember the rice field burns?

  1. I used to jump on the ‘control burns are necessary’ band wagon. I listened to the ted talks and knew indigenous people burned traditionally. I believed in the replenishment of wild fire.
    Our house burned despite being properly cleared of brush and debris, and despite having a cattle grazed , logged and limbed up ranch between us and the inferno. The firemen chatting in our yard when we arrived on the scene said we had the best defensible space. Bull shit.
    No amount of defensible space will stop anything if the air we breathe has negative moisture in it and wind at 90 mph. No amount of control burning will stop people from expanding civilization into the forest. People have filled and settled the valleys that indigenous communities used to burn free of brush.
    These control burns are not helping our health or assisting fire prone communities. They’re making us sick. Everyone gets triggered by these control burns , looking for the origin with concern over whether the fire is wild or controlled, panicking. Trauma for those who’ve lived it.
    It’s not short sighted to abhor control burns. It’s short sighted to think removing vegetation will replace the missing water in the system.
    The cattle brought in by settlers a hundred years ago destroyed the valley floors and hills, created scrub brush invasions. It’s documented. We did this. We aren’t fixing anything by burning it.
    And please remember that one little ‘spark’, in 2017 and beyond, was in large part caused by pg and e equipment (along with crazy winds and negative moisture in the air) WE ALL consume that power. Maybe instead of blaming the forest and burning everything in sight we should look in the mirror and hold these corporations responsible.
    Check out pg and e’s 2022 plan for what they are calling ‘wildfires’, undergrounding and all that push is specifically to avoid being sued AGAIN. That’s why they care. It isnt cause they care if you can heat your house.
    Control burns are an understandable, but irrational reaction.


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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
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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