Willie Fire Races Over Three Miles to the East – Redheaded Blackbelt

The Willie Fire about 4 p .m. [Photo by Brandon Rowland ]

A little-known fire in the Ruth Complex burning east of Island Mt. and south of Ruth Lake raced east over the last two days consuming about three and a half miles of wildland, according to Dan Dill, District Ranger for the Mad River area of the National Forest Service. The Willie Fire began from a lightning strike during the storms that pummelled Northern California at the beginning of the week.

At first, the fire which began east of the North Fork of the Eel River and east of the Willie Hoaglin Place grew slowly. Attention centered on containing and extinguishing the 22 other fires in this district started by the thousands of lightning strikes. But then, between yesterday and today, the fire exploded from 40 acres to 1500 acres and began running due east to Raglan Flat where the head of the fire burns this evening, Dill explained.

Smoke from the Willie Fire as seen from Island Mountain about 1:30 p.m. today. A comparison with the top photo taken about four shows that the smoke column grew exponentially. [Photo by Chris Darr]

The fire is burning mostly in grass and, consequently, moving fast. Dill said that the crews are trying to extinguish the quick moving blaze. “We’re in full suppression mode,” he said. “[But] it is resistant to suppression.”

Speaking of the number of lightning fires started earlier this week already extinguished by his forestry crews, Dill said, “I am so proud of my firefighters. They are impressive.” Of the entire Ruth Complex which has now consumed 3500 acres, only three of the fires are still burning. The others have all been extinguished. The Secret Fire is still burning but is contained. Only the Dutchman and the Willie are uncontained. The Dutchman is burning slowly but the Willie is moving quickly through grass towards the east.

The speed and size of the latter fire prompted Dill to request assistance. The Nor Cal Management Team Five took command at 6 p.m….

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