Monument Fire grows to 74,000 acres, containment remains at 5%

The Monument Fire surpasses 74,000 acres. Containment stalls at 5 percent.

Posted: Aug 13, 2021 7:30 AM

Update Friday, August 21st, 2021 - The Monument fire is now 74,759 acres this morning. Containment remains at 5%. 

Fire crews say all flanks were active last night. Spotting was more pronounced on the southeastern edge overnight.

The fire grew over a mile southeastward beyond the Hayfork Divide and is now established in the Soldier Creek drainage.

WEAVERVILLE, Calif.- The Monument Fire has grown 5,000 acres overnight to over 67,000 acres with 3% containment. Containment has remained at 3% since Monday.

The U.S. Forestry told Action News Now the lack of progress in containment was due to the focus on protecting lives and properties over perimeter containment.

Fire crews have worked hard to continue to protect the areas of Big Bar, Junction City, and Burnt Ranch from the fire. 

Monument Fire Public Information Officer Paul Hancock told Action News Now that the constant smoke in the area has kept fuels in the area dry, contributing to the fires continued growth.

They’re primed and ready to burn," said Hancock. "There’s very little live fuel moisture in them, and wherever the heat from the fire aligns with the drainage, or the winds shift and that alignment occurs, that’s where we start to see the fire grow. So, the fire continues to grow on almost every edge of this fire."

Most of the containment has occurred on the south and west perimeters of the fire.

The terrain where the Monument Fire is burning is also a reason for the lack of containment. Steep, rocky hillsides are already difficult to manage, but rock slides have become a worry for the area.

Almost a week ago, a rock slide closed down Highway 299 just west of where the fire was burning.

While that slide didn't slow fire crews down too much, they say more slides could happen as the fire continues to burn.

"As it burns it tends to burn the leaf litter or whatever is in between the rocks and it's causing instability, said Hancock." So, those rocks continue to roll down into the roadway and impact even the fire traffic that’s there"

Fearing what could happen if a rock slide completely blocked Highway 299, firefighters set up two incident command bases. One in Weaverville on the east side, and one near Willow Creek on the west.

These bases have allowed crews to fight the fire on two fronts, making it easier for them to respond to spot fires and emergencies.

Hancock said that the limited resources due to the other fires burning in northern California is also a reason for the lack of containment. 

Containment should begin to increase as hand and hot shot crews have joined the Monument Fire efforts in the last few days.

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We've had a gray and cool start to the first full week of December in northern California. Light rain showers will fall tonight, we can expect a breezy and brighter Tuesday, with much more active weather ahead.
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