UPDATE 1pm, 10/09/17: For updates on Tuesday, October 10, please see this article.
UPDATE 10:40am, 10/09/17: We're providing new updates for the fires at this link.
UPDATE: 5:40am, 10/09/17: Mendocino County has been hit hard tonight with two large fires, that have already burned down at least 11 structures, and severely burned at least two people. We are just now getting information on the actual scale of the fires. The fire in Redwood Valley has spread to 4500 acres, and is 0% contained, according to Cal Fire spokesperson Tricia Austin at 5:30am. A separate fire in Potter Valley stands at 1500 acres and is also 0% contained — this fire is responsible for the destruction of 11 structures so far. Both fires began around midnight, and firefighters are struggling with strong winds. Adding to the difficulty is the fact that aircraft cannot join the fight until sunrise, and major fires have sprung up in Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties, spreading resources and firefighters thin.
Furthering confusion is the fact that the fire seems to have hit a cellphone tower, resulting in significant cell and internet outages around the fire and also in Willits.
The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has tweeted that the following areas are under an evacuation order: East and West Road, Tomki Road all the way the way to Canyon Road in Willits, the Golden Rule subdivision, and Reeve's Canyon.
Here are the updates for people located in the evacuation zones. The Sheriff requests that you not call 911 unless you have an emergency. A call center for fire info has been set up. You can call 707.467.6428, 707.467.2518, 707.467.6446. Large animals north of the Ridgewood Grade can be evacuated to the Willits High farm, in Ukiah to the Fairgrounds. Shelters are open for evacuees at Ukiah High and the Willits Community Center.
Schools are closed in the Ukiah Unified School District and in Potter Valley.
Highway 101 is closed between Uva Drive and the top of the Ridgewood grade (just south of Black Bart Road and the Howard Forest Cal Fire station) in both directions. Highway 20 is closed in Lake County at Sulfur Banks Road, east of Clearlake Oakes. Additional road closures are listed in the original post.
The fire is burning uphill and east of the 101 and can be seen from the Little Lake Valley. Large swaths of the hills can be seen casting a glow on the smoke above along Black Bart Drive in Willits, where people quietly gathered at a turn out to watch the fire burn with somber expressions.
Willits is unusually active at this hour -- people are driving through the streets with cots in the back of their trucks and big rigs are parked along the highway, unable to continue on their way south. Evacuees from the Golden Rule subdivision have filled the parking lot of the Evergreen shopping center, and milled around in a combination of pajamas and warm clothing. One woman said she'd been evacuated about at about 3:30am.
Reader Raschelle Hoyt shared this video of the fire:
Original: 3:20am, 10/09/17:
MENDOCINO CO., 10/09/17 — A major wild fire is burning in Redwood Valley, called the Redwood Complex, the smoke and glow of which are visible from Willits. Due to the hour information is limited, but scanner traffic indicates a size of perhaps 100 acres and growing.
The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has tweeted that the following areas are under an evacuation order: East and West Road, Tomki Road all the way the way to Canyon Road in Willits, the Golden Rule subdivision, and Reeve's Canyon. In Redwood Valley, School Way has been closed from Highway 101. The Ukiah Fairgrounds is being made available for people with large animals who are facing evacuations. At 3:40am evacuations are expanding to the southern stretches of West Road, and more may be on the way.
As of 3am the 101 is closed in both directions at Black Bart Trail in Redwood Valley, at the bottom of the grade.
Given the wide sweep of evacuations, it's unclear if this is one fire or multiple fires. From scanner traffic, it sounds like trees and power lines are down and visibility is limited. Assistance from PG&E has been requested. Roads in the area may be closed. According to scanner traffic, air ambulances in Mendocino are not flying due to weather.
Information is sparse and information is developing, we'll try to post a fuller story in the coming hours. Reports indicate that the fire began in Potter Valley.
Kym Kemp at Redheaded Blackbelt is reporting that major fires have broken out in several northern California counties, including a 500 to 1000 acre fire in Lake County, and a fire that has caused evacuations near Santa Rosa.
We're experiencing limited internet and cell connectivity -- we're not sure if this is a bigger problem or just The Mendocino Voice. If you have any additional information please contact us at [email protected] or on our Facebook page.