Friday the 13th brought plenty of good luck to those battling the Redwood Fire, as Cal Fire reported it had doubled containment by that evening’s briefing. “We started the day at 10 percent, and this evening we bumped that up to 20 percent,” said Cal Fire Incident Commander Dave Russell, telling the crowd gathered at Ukiah High School Oct. 13 that the numbers of firefighters had been bumped up even more significantly.
Another factor that helped the fight against the Redwood Fire in Mendocino County was that progress against the Sulphur Fire in Lake County had been so successful that Cal Fire was able to move much of the resources devoted to that fire to the beating back the fires threatening Redwood and Potter valleys. “Every day we’re going in deeper and deeper” with direct hand lines said Operations Chief Mark Higgins, and the Cal Fire meteorologist assigned to the fire said he was carefully tracking weather forecasts.
“Over the last 36 hours, we’ve had some really favorable weather for the fire, but there are two periods coming up that we’re looking at,” he said, explaining that he wasn’t expecting a repeat of the conditions at the start of the fires because although the winds would be coming from the same directions (east and northeast) as Oct. 9, “the wind speeds predicted are not anywhere close to what we had last weekend.” And this time Cal Fire officials said they were better prepared for the winds, with “apparatus in place and increased staffing.”
Areas that are not opened yet means there may be significant damage on roadways or power lines down as well as the potential for the fire to encroach on areas to the north. “We are very concerned that the wind could switch the fire to the Pine Mountain area, so that is still under a mandatory evacuation order,” said Russell. “But I want to assure that our No. 1 priority is getting you back into your homes.”
“Everyone in Potter Valley should have had power by Friday night,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman, adding that he expected a “temporary cell tower” to be installed there as well, and he urged residents to register their cell phones with his office as soon as possible “because that is the only way to contact you if this fire takes a turn for the worse.”
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