Exceedingly hot and dry conditions combined with an extreme wind event beginning on September 7 resulted in explosive growth of existing fires and the ignition and rapid spread of several fires in the Pacific Northwest. These conditions have resulted in five fires in Oregon that have currently burned more than 100,000 acres with numerous smaller fires prompting massive evacuations across the state. A number of the fires in Oregon are burning in landscapes that have gone unburned for several decades which in conjunction with the preceding hot and dry conditions has resulted in extreme fire behavior. The sheer number of fires across the western US has limited suppression capabilities for individual events, although forecasts indicate an improvement of conditions in the coming days that should allow for enhanced suppression and less severe fire behavior.
In California numerous fires continue burning across the state, although California was not subject to the same extreme wind conditions as the Pacific Northwest. Consequently, fire suppression activities have made progress in containment for many fires although numerous evacuations remain in place as several communities remain threatened. CalFire reports that five of the largest ten fires in California history are currently active.
- The Almeda Drive Fire, located to the south of Medford, Oregon has reportedly significantly impacted the towns of Phoenix and Talent, Oregon. As of September 11 the State of Oregon estimates 700 structures have been destroyed by the fire including 600 residences. The fire ignited on September 8 and is currently estimated to be approximately 5,716 acres and is 0 percent contained with evacuation orders in place.
- In northwestern Oregon the Riverside Fire in Clackamas, County has burned over 120,000 acres as of September 11 and has destroyed 53 structures including 20 residences according to the State of Oregon. Numerous evacuation orders are in effect as the fire moves west towards the Willamette Valley.
- In California the Bobcat Fire, burning in the Angeles National Forest to the north of Arcadia, California has burned 26,000 acres and is 6 percent contained according to CalFire. The fire is burning in old growth chaparral with low moisture content due to recent hot and dry conditions resulting in extreme fire behavior. Efforts are being made to contain the south perimeter of the fire in anticipation of offshore winds early today. Winds are expected to shift to the north later today driving the fire away from the foothills communities to the south of the fire where evacuations are currently in place.
- The North Complex, burning primarily in Butte and Plumas County, California has burned an estimated 244,000 acres according to CalFire. This is actually a reduction in acreage compared to September 10 due to enhanced perimeter mapping following explosive growth of the fire on September 9. The Complex is 23 percent contained according to CalFire and has affected the communities of Berry Creek, Feather Falls, and Brush Creek with an estimated 2,000 structures destroyed. Evacuations are in place as the fire remains a threat to several communities including Oroville, CA.
- An early season snowstorm brought relief to the large fires burning in Colorado, after a period of explosive growth over the weekend. Warm conditions are expected to return this weekend, however firefighting resources are taking advantage of the moisture and cool temperatures to enhance containment on the Cameron Peak Fire.
For September 11, 2020
Updates and Useful Links
GC Meteorologists and Wildfire Experts will continue to monitor the developing wildfire situation and post updates as necessary.
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Official statements from emergency management agencies supersede this update, and should be closely monitored concerning matters of personal safety.