Mad River Union
MANILA – Smoke billowed from the Samoa Peninsula Thursday, July 16 as a wildfire shot flames 30 feet into the air and consumed 12.74 acres between Manila and the Samoa Bridge.
Arcata Fire Protection District (AFPD) Battalion Chief Sean Campbell said the cause of the blaze is still under investigation. He also noted that there may be some smoke rising from the area for the next week or two. If you see a little smoke, don’t worry about it. If you see flames, call 911.
AFPD was dispatched to the vegeation fire at about 2:36 p.m. on Thursday The blaze had started on the west side of State Route 255, then jumped over to the east side, Campbell said.
By the time firefighters arrived, the fire was well under way, gobbling up dry brush, grass and trees.
State Route 255 and Vance Avenue were immediately shut down to vehicle traffic as more firefighters raced to the scene.
About a 100 firefighters responded. Agencies assisting included CalFire, Humboldt Bay Fire (Eureka), Samoa Peninsula Fire, Blue Lake Fire, Fieldbrook Fire, Loleta Fire, Fortuna Fire, Fieldbrook Fire, Bureau of Land Management, Caltrans, California Highway Patrol, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Pacific Gas & Electric.
A strong wind from the west helped fuel and spread the fire. Fortunately, the wind was moving the fire towards the shores of Humboldt Bay.
‘It helped having the bay right there as a stop,” Campbell said.
A full aerial attack was launched against the fire, with a
Calfire helicopter repeatedly scooping water from the bay and dumping it on the flames. An air tanker also sprayed fire repellent on the blaze.
Crews, meanwhile, attacked the fire in various locations. Water tenders shuttled h from Samoa to keep the firefighters supplied.
Within a few hours, the fire was well contained and under control. By about 6 p.m. State Route 255 reopened to one-way traffic with a pilot vehicle guiding cars through the smoky landscape. Two lanes were opened by 8 p.m., and firefighters were done putting out the fire and returned to their stations by 9 p.m. In Arcata, firefighters continued to work until midnight, getting the engines back in service.
The dilapidated, graffiti covered building on Vance Avenue just south of its intersection with Route 255 was saved. But a different out building behind it was destroyed, Campbell said.
At one point during the fire, there were concerns that the wood power poles on Vance Avenue could be compromised by the fire, but they only sustained minor damage.
Campbell credited emergency dispatchers for calling for more assets, even before Arcata Fire was on scene to assess the situation.
Another advantage in fighting the fire was having people from other departments that are familiar and that Arcata Fire has experience working with, Campbell said.
The Vance fire is one of the largest for Arcata Fire so far this season.
UPDATE: As of 7 p.m. road is open to one-way traffic. Pilot vehicle is leading cars through fire area. Fire crews are still working. There's still a lot of smoke.
UPDATE: As of 5:10 p.m., Route 255 is still closed between the Samoa Bridge and Vance Avenue.
Mad River Union
MANILA – A vegetation fire broke out this afternoon before 3 p.m., closing down State Route 255 as firefighters battled the blaze on both sides of the road.
Early estimates pegged the fire at about five acres, located in an area south of Vance Avenue between Manila and the Samoa Bridge. Westerly winds fanned the flames as the fire spread through the forest area on the west side of 255 and the old ranch between the highway and Vance Avenue.
The only structure in the area is an old dilapidated house that was already badly damaged from previous fires. It was saved from the flames. However, at one point the fire threatened to take out the power poles on Vance.
CalFire responded with a helicopter and a spotter aircraft. The CalFire helicopter repeatedly dipped water out of the bay and doused the flames.
Also responding were Arcata Fire, Blue Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Fieldbrook Fire, Eureka Fire and Samoa Fire, among others.
As of about 4 p.m., the fire was under control, although crews were still putting it out. As of 4:53 p.m., the road remained closed.