Echo Lake & the Caldor Fire

Zeke sat down with Junet Bedayn, from the Echo Lake Environment Fund to talk about the 2021 Caldor Fire, and it’s landscape-scale effects on the forests it burned across. Junet grew up spending summers at cabins on Echo Lake, located on the crest of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, just south of Lake Tahoe, and she … Read more

Dixie Fire Stories Interview

I did an interview a couple months ago with Joanne Burgueño, a photographer who helps run the Dixie Fire Stories page on Facebook. They have been running multi-part interviews, with photos, with people who went thru the Dixie Fire in one way or another. Here it is: My name is Zeke Lunder. I’m a geographer … Read more

Full Interview with Daniel Swain, PhD

  Daniel Swain, PhD is one of the world’s foremost experts in the interactions between climate, wildfire, and flooding. He joined Zeke at The Lookout to talk about the Dixie Fire specifically and how weather affects wildfire in general. He also had some interesting things to tell us about the Marshall Fire, flooding and climate … Read more

A Conversation with Sue Husari

Lassen Hotshots, 1977. Zeke: Okay. We have a visitor today, Sue Husari, legendary wildland firefighter, one of the first female Hotshots, and leader in American wildland fire with a fire career spanning 5 decades. Welcome to The Lookout, Sue! When did you know that you were going to have a career in fire? Sue Husari: … Read more

Dixie Fire in Lassen Park – Animation

Here is a great map made by our friend Peter Hansen showing the Dixie Fire‘s spread across Lassen Park. As we have discussed in length on previous posts, the 2012 Reading Fire was a managed wildfire that escaped control and burned out of the park. Nine years later, the Reading played a major role in … Read more

Dixie Fire – 8/5/2021 Morning

This was one of our first posts. The Lookout was born during the Dixie Fire.

For people in Northeastern California, yesterday was obviously a historic/generational event that will be remembered in the same way we talk about the 1910 Big Blowup, Loma Prieta Earthquake, or the 2018 Camp Fire. But today we’ll being having ‘aftershocks’ so the post is going to look mainly forward at the next couple of days.

This report focuses on the northern parts of the fire. IR mapping shows no growth of the fire in areas around Jonesville, Quincy or Bucks Lake.

We are still in critical fire weather conditions. The forecast for today:

 334 AM PDT Thu Aug 5 2021
 A period of significant critical conditions are expected through 
 Thursday with Red Flag Warnings in effect as a strong trough 
 moves into the region today. Ridge and upper slope winds increase
 tonight before surfacing to valleys this afternoon. Overnight 
 recoveries will be poor through Friday. Winds will be slow to drop
 off Thursday night with another round of dry conditions.

The main problem with the weather forecast is after keeping on blowing from the south for most of the day, we are forecast to get strong west winds this evening which will turn to NW tonight. This has the potential to take a lot of the flanks on our long new south>north fire runs and squeegee them sideways to the east. We fight fire along the flanks, so when the flank turns into the head, it is dangerous for firefighters. I’ll break out the fire behavior concerns for area of the fire in the images below. The main thing is to be aware if you have fire west of you right now, it may be moving your way tonight.

Imagery is still showing the bulk of the fire spread yesterday went around Chester and the Collins Pine sawmill. For anyone out there wondering why we are having problems controlling this fire, or why we aren’t using more bulldozers, today’s piece of trivia is that the ‘Superditch’ flood control canal just west of Chester is 100 yards wide, and it didn’t stop the fire at all.

Scroll down for Greenville-area maps.

The finger of fire that reached out for Almanor West did not spread yesterday, however there was spread toward Almanor West from the west from the intense run that took off toward Chester yesterday. Lake Almanor West may be threatened by west winds this evening, as may be the northern edge of Chester. The fire will spread further up toward Lassen Park, and likely get pushed into the clearcuts and plantations south of Echo Lake. Depending on how far east the fire spreads, forecast northwest or north winds may threaten the Peninsula, Hamilton Branch, or Clear Creek. For reference, the fire spread 8 miles to the north yesterday around Chester, and is currently 12 miles from Clear Creek and 8 miles from the Peninsula. On fires over the past few years, we have observed enhanced rates of fire spread across areas with clearcuts and tree farms. Nothing political here, just the facts. The cutblocks are hot and dry, and exposed to the wind. Fire likes them. To the timberland owners credit, the clearcuts in this photo look like they’ve had good slash cleanup. Even so, I don’t expect them to slow the fire spread down.

Looking south over Chester. IR imagery from last night, 8/4/2021, at 11:45 pm. White line shows 22 hrs of fire spread.

Looking NE toward Chester over Black Forest Lodge and Highway 36. IR imagery from last night, 8/4/2021, at 11:45 pm. White line shows 22 hrs of fire spread. Fire has spread over Stover Mountain and into Warner Valley.
Northern edge is approaching Lassen Park boundary. Green line is Plumas/Tehama County line.

IR imagery from last night, 8/4/2021, at 11:45 pm. White line shows 22 hrs of fire spread. Looking north over Canyondam and Highway 89. Fire ran 4-5 miles yesterday. There was new spread from Butt Lake up toward Canyondam. Firing operations below the Dam have been holding for 2 weeks, but it is likely the westerly winds this evening will push the fire east across the North Fork Feather River and threaten Canyondam. Winds are forecast to switch back to southerly midday Friday. The main fingers in this view will continue to push up Keddie Ridge. West winds tonight could push fire in Pecks Valley, north of Greenville, to the east, threatening the North Arm of Indian Valley and North Valley Road. IR imagery from last night, 8/4/2021, at 11:45 pm. White line shows 22 hrs of fire spread.

Poor Greenville. Looking West. Smoke has already lifted out of the Valley at 7am, and fire crossed Greenville Saddle last night. The portion of fire which slopped across Highway 89 2 days ago at Old Haun Road was checked up with dozer line and held thru yesterday, but a new run to the west is going to burn up Keddie Ridge anyway. Yesterday afternoon, the fire moved east on the north slopes above Highway 89 toward Forgay Point. The east flank of the run up Greenville Saddle will threaten North Valley Road and the North Arm if it gets a strong push from NW winds tonight. There aren’t many good places to control the fire as it moves toward the bottom of the screen. IR imagery from last night, 8/5/2021, about 6:00 am. White line shows about 30 hrs of fire spread.

Finally, this section is North of Jonesville and Humboldt Summit along Humboldt Road. The fire  has crossed Humboldt Road for most of its length now, and is flanking to the west toward Highway 32. Though this is not ideal, at all, we may get some lower severity fire effects here, in an area which has had fire in past 15 years, and needs it again. We have few options for managing fuel loads and forest density in the roadless areas of Deer Creek, and the last fire that burned here (shown in light blue), in 2008, thinned thick forests and left many of the largest trees. Nevertheless, this portion of the fire has few options for control short of running bulldozers down the PCT (along the green county line), which probably wouldn’t work, anyway. It will be interesting to see how this flank of the fire pans out, and I’ll write more about it later. IR imagery from last night, 8/4/2021, at 11:45 pm. White line shows 22 hrs of fire spread.