There have been three confirmed deaths and at least 12 people are listed as missing in the wildfire that flared up Monday in the larger group of fires known as the North Complex. And the fire that's been being referred to as the Bear Fire received a new official name from Cal Fire Thursday morning: North Complex West Zone.
About 20,000 people are under evacuation orders due to the fire, which spread dangerously close to areas of Paradise on Tuesday night where rebuilding is ongoing from the devastating 2018 Camp Fire. An evacuation warning for part of Paradise was lifted Wednesday, but people remain on high alert in the area.
As KPIX reports, mandatory evacuations were ordered for parts of Yuba County as well as the fire moves in that direction.
Out of 85 welfare checks that were requested for missing individuals, 73 have been safely located, according to Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea. 12 remain missing. The identities of the three dead have not yet been released.
The photos below show the massive smoke clouds being produced by the fire on Tuesday, which helps explain where some of the smoke choking the skies over the Bay Area was coming from yesterday.
The extreme rate of spread on #ClaremontFire/#BearFire right now is reminiscent of the Camp Fire back in 2018, and is burning just south of that location in similar vegetation and weather conditions. This is one to take *extremely* seriously if you are in the path. #CAwx #CAfire https://t.co/mHIawHt0Yn pic.twitter.com/qI0rXZLYkx— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) September 8, 2020
The new round of fire in these woods sprang up from a not-fully-contained fire that goes back to the lightning-caused fires of mid-August. The earlier piece of the Bear Fire was burning in Plumas National Forest, and other flanks of the North Complex were burning to the west and northeast of Oroville at various points in the last four weeks. The Chronicle has an interactive map that shows the progression (if you zoom out).
Cal Fire reports that the fire "actively burned through the night" on Wednesday, "but did not experience significant growth." Overall, the North Complex has burned over 247,000 acres and with this new flare-up is only 23-percent contained.
Meanwhile, this dramatic photo from Tuesday of fire burning on hills behind the Bidwall Bar Bridge at Lake Oroville has made national news.