Lower temperatures, higher humidity, and relatively calm winds have allowed firefighters to begin to get the upper hand on the three major wildfire complexes around the Bay. But the smaller Woodward Fire in Marin County continues burning through old-growth forest that may have never burned, prompting new evacuations.
There are are far fewer active hot spots appearing on fire maps as of Tuesday morning, however full containment is still likely weeks off for the major fires, which continue burning in remote, often steep and inaccessible territory.
SCU Lightning Complex Fires
The SCU Lightning Complex Fires once again overtook the LNU Complex to take the title of second-largest wildfire in state history, growing overnight to 363,772 acres. The southernmost hot spots are in Henry W. Coe State Park, in the hills east of Morgan Hill, while the northern hot spots of the fires are east of Milpitas, just across the county line in Alameda County. The complex was 15-percent contained as of Tuesday morning, up from 10 percent on Monday, and it has destroyed 18 structures.
CZU Lightning Complex Fires
The complex of fires burning in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties reached 17-percent containment as of Tuesday morning, after burning just under 79,000 acres. The fires have destroyed at least 330 buildings, but as the New York Times reports, they continue to threaten about 25,000 more. One 70-year-old man was confirmed dead in the fires in a remote part of the Santa Cruz Mountains on Monday, and seven more people are reported missing, some in areas where the fires have passed through.
New reports now confirm that most of the redwood trees in Big Basin Redwoods State Park withstood the flames, as they likely have many times before in their lifetimes.
LNU Lightning Complex Fires
The hot spots in the eastern part of the LNU Complex are now concentrated in the area east of Mount St. Helena in Lake County, and an area in northern Yolo County west of Rumsey. In the Walbridge Fire portion of the complex, the fire continues burning into the woods in multiple directions, though still well outside the towns of Healdsburg, Windsor, and Guerneville. Containment on the Walbridge Fire rose to 17 percent overnight, as the Press Democrat reports, with firefighters able to hold all their fire lines.
Containment on the LNU Complex overall rose to 27 percent as of Tuesday morning.
So far this has been the most destructive of the fire complexes, and damage assessments in neighborhoods where the fire passed through are still underway. A total of 937 homes and other structures are confirmed destroyed, mostly concentrated in Sonoma County west of Healdsburg, and in Solano County in the western part of Vacaville, but that number is expected to rise in the coming days.
The Woodward Fire
The Woodward Fire in western Marin County, near Point Reyes, grew to 2,739 acres overnight. As KPIX reports, 90 more homes near Inverness were evacuated, and evacuation warnings were issued for portions of Olema as well.
The fire is being aided by six- and seven-foot-tall overgrown scrub brush. Fire officials say there is no history of fire in the area, and that is making things even more difficult in this rugged terrain.
"This fuel is extremely challenging,” said Marin County Fire Chief Jason Weber at a Tuesday morning briefing, per KPIX. "Some of the area has no recorded history of fire. It’s decadent [old growth] timber that has never burned."
Because of wind patterns and the proximity to the city, the Woodward Fire has created much of the smoke that has blanketed San Francisco in recent days.