KEY POINTS

  • The August Complex fire engulfed over 1 million acres across seven counties in northern California
  • Fire crews are making headway and further weather relief is forecast going into the weekend
  • CAL FIRE is asking residents who didn't evacuate to stop lighting backfires meant to defend their property

California fire crews continued making some progress against the August Complex fire on Tuesday, which has engulfed over 1 million acres of land in the northern part of the state.

Since the August Complex fire started on Aug. 16 from lightning strikes, the wildfire spread to Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity, Tehama, Glenn, Lake, and Colusa Counties. It’s burned through 1,003,387 acres, either damaged or destroyed 248 structures, and injured at least one person.

However, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said crews have been making headway against the fire and contained 54% of it as of Tuesday. This headway is thanks, partly, to cooler weather across the state bringing down some of the fires’ intensity, along with dry winds dying down. A storm front is also forecast to hit northern California by the weekend, but it is not known how it could affect the fire.

“Whereas we may see some rain on the fire this weekend, I do not believe it will be significant enough to be a season-ending event,” CAL FIRE meteorologist Tom Bird told the Santa-Rosa Press Democrat. He did say a marine-layer coming down from the Pacific Northwest on Wednesday should bring some relief.

“Going forward we are trending in a better direction,” Bird said.

Despite the progress fire crews made and the weather relief on the way, CAL FIRE said residents who haven’t evacuated are taking it upon themselves to defend their property from the wildfires. This led to multiple reports of residents lighting backfires to protect areas under threat from the Glass Fire. CAL FIRE spokesman Scott McLean said the agency is investigating the reports.

“You just don’t arbitrarily put fire on the ground without notification,” McLean told the Press-Democrat. “There’s so much danger to that. There’s always reaction to that action, that’s how serious it is.”

As of Tuesday, the Glass Fire burned through 66,840 acres and either damaged or destroyed 1,681 structures. No injuries or deaths have been reported and fire crews contained around 50% of the blaze.

Private firefighting crews are still subject to evacuations orders and only allowed into threatened areas to clear their contractor’s property if it is in a “defensible state.”

“They are not to be there as far as a firefighting force,” McLean said. “They are not to put any fire on the ground. Once they’ve taken care of that property, they come back out. They are not to stay and defend.”

In this long exposure photograph, burning hills create a flaming landscape during the Glass fire in Napa County's St. Helena, California on September 27, 2020, described by authorities as a wildfire with a 'dangerous rate of spread.' In this long exposure photograph, burning hills create a flaming landscape during the Glass fire in Napa County's St. Helena, California on September 27, 2020, described by authorities as a wildfire with a 'dangerous rate of spread.' Photo: AFP / JOSH EDELSON