Cal Fire projected that the Central LNU Complex wildfires still burning in Northern California would be contained by Friday, and for now, those projections seem to be on track.
It's a great bit of good news in this ongoing story regarding the devastating wildfires, to be sure. As of 7 a.m. this morning, Cal Fire reports that two of the three largest fires, the Tubbs Fire and the Nuns Fire, are at 91% and 80% containment, respectively. The Tubbs Fire has consumed 36,432 acres, and the Nuns Fire — composed of several separate fires — has destroyed 54,423 acres of Napa and Sonoma countryside.
Statewide wildland fire map for Wednesday, October 18. pic.twitter.com/nsYINuI7h6— Cal OES (@Cal_OES) October 18, 2017
Tragically, the death toll has climbed to 42, as rescue crews found the remains of another victim in Sonoma County, according to NBC Bay Area. Crews are also beginning the arduous process of searching for the 53 people still considered missing in the area. KRON 4 says that there are nearly 200 people serving in the search and rescue crews, and that they're working with forensic scientists and cadaver dogs to close out the rest of these cases. Previous reports show that the total number of missing persons peaked at 1,969, and as we mentioned yesterday, many of those cases were resolved as communication lines were re-established, allowing people to contact their missing family members and friends.
Fire crews are also making good progress on containing the Atlas Fire, putting it at 83% containment, with 51,064 acres of land destroyed.
The Redwood Valley Fire in Mendocino County — 35,800 acres, 75% containment — is contained enough that Cal Fire has released a repopulation plan for parts of Redwood Valley, Willits, and Lake County, lifting an earlier evacuation warning for a part of Potter Valley. In the report, they specify the following areas have had their evacuation warnings lifted:
The community of Van Aresdale north of the Stroh Ranch (also known as John Day Hill) on both sides of the Eel River. This includes Van Aresdale Rd, Oat Gap Rd, Ridgewood Rd, and all feeder roads.
The Chronicle still estimates that 22,000 people remain evacuated throughout all of Sonoma County.
A key factor in the firefighters' battle against the wildfires has been the cooler weather coming in ahead of the rain still forecast for late today and early Thursday. Rick Canepa, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told the Chron: "We’re at the point where we’re expecting a whole lot of improvement. It should be noticeable improvement. By late afternoon into the evening it should feel cooler. Where the fires are at, the winds should be mainly light today."
Down in Santa Cruz, the Bear Fire, which broke out late Monday night, has grown to 271 acres, and is currently sitting at 10% containment. CBS reports that another firefighter was injured while battling the blaze last night, bringing the total number of injured firefighters fighting the Bear Fire to six. Cal Fire spokeswoman Angela Bernheisel explained to CBS the complications they've ran into and how that has contributed to the injuries. She said, "Topography has been the major challenge on this fire. It has contributed to our injuries. These mountains are steep and rugged. Access is tough." Cal Fire has issued evacuation orders to the following areas in Santa Cruz County:
Santa Cruz County: Evacuation orders have been issued for the communities of Las Cumbres, Deer Creek, and all residents of Bear Creek Road from Hawk Ridge Road to Skyline Blvd (Hwy 35).