With a winter that saw very little precipitation, fire officials knew that the 2020 wildfire season in Northern California had the potential to be dangerous and damaging. In fact, CalFire officials went out of their way to warn residents of a potentially difficult fire season back in May.
“Over the past several years we’ve had drought conditions that caused 147 million trees to die in the sierras,” said CalFire Director Thom Porter. “Those trees are still out there. No amount of rain will bring those trees back.”
While 2019 was a bit of a reprieve from the devastating fires of 2018, it was a much needed year to recover from the deadliest and most damaging fires California’s ever seen. But with 2019 in the rearview mirror and much of Northern California experiencing drought conditions, wildfire season could come back with a vengeance.
While we’ve already seen hundreds of relatively small fires throughout NorCal this summer, the weekend of July 18th seemed to officially kick off wildfire season with multiple large and fast-moving blazes throughout the area. We’re still not sure what the fire season of 2020 has in store for the residents of NorCal, and this weekend may have been a precursor to another difficult summer. Here is a breakdown of the significant fire incidents this weekend:
The Hog Fire began as a seemingly innocuous wildfire just west of Susanville in Lassen County around 3:30 pm on Saturday. Much of the flames remained out of the way of residents, that is until it ballooned to 5,800 acres (as of Monday morning) and forced evacuations of the rural community.
The smoke from the fire is now prevalent throughout much of the Sierra, even creating bad air quality in Chico. As of Monday morning, there has been no containment on this fire, although it seems like the spread has slowed overnight. It still remains the most significant wildfire incident in NorCal.
The Badger Fire near Yreka, which began on Saturday night has now grown to 450 acres by Monday morning, forcing evacuations in the community of Hawkinsville. The fire sits at 15 percent containment as of Monday morning.
#BadgerFire(Update)- Due to steep terrain and limited access crews are having a difficult time gaining full containment. Fire is 450 plus acres with 15% containment. All Evacuations remain in effect. Cause is still under investigation.#CALFIRESKU2020 #ReadyForWildfire pic.twitter.com/rE3pz9sXxq— CAL FIRE SKU (@CALFIRESKU) July 20, 2020
The town of Yreka and neighboring communities watched in the hills above their home Saturday night, as the grass fire exploded to 300 acres within just hours. The fire originally began as two fires, the Humbug and Badger Fires, and quickly joined together to create one bigger wildfire incident. The area currently sits in “Extreme Drought,” which is the worst indication for dryness in an area.
The Gibson Fire broke out along Interstate 5 near Shasta Lake on Sunday afternoon, delaying traffic and giving people terrifying Deja vu of the Delta Fire in 2018, which began in a similar fashion nearby.
While it became a visible wildfire for anyone traveling on the busy freeway, firefighter were quick to the scene and were able to contain the flames overnight. The fire was fully contained on Monday morning as it reached 35 acres.
The Platina Fire began about 20 miles west of Redding on Sunday afternoon and quickly grew to over a hundred acres. Now the fire has grown to 250 acres with 15 percent containment. There are currently no evacuations in progress.
Windy conditions increased fire activity in the southwest area of the fire during the night, then subsided in the early morning hours moderating the fire behavior and allowing firefighters to make progress on containment.
Another difficult fire season is no stranger for NorCal residents, many of whom have been impacted by numerous wildfires in their lives. But for some still struggling following the Carr, Camp, Delta and Mendocino Complex Fires of 2018, another wall of flames approaching their homes may approach a breaking point.