By early August, 2018, the Los Angeles Times would report that during the past five years over 53% of Lake County had been charred by wildfires.
At that date the Mendocino Complex Fires (the River Fire and the Ranch Fire) were still raging across the rugged country west and north of Clear Lake. The fires had both started on July 27 in Mendocino County. Within a couple of days, the more southerly River Fire had swept over the Mayacamas Range and took out many ancient oaks all the way down the canyons to Big Valley in Lake County. The Ranch Fire, meanwhile, raged, uncontrolled, in Mendocino National Forest, burning completely across the breadth of the county and on into Colusa and Glenn Counties. By now, the Mendocino Complex Fires had been identified as the biggest ever recored in California.
Maps show the foot print of the fires in tan and the actively burning areas in yellow, orange and red.
The ranch fire subsequently continued burning much further to the north and east than shown on the map.
The roadside scenes below are along the Hopland Grade, Rte 175 on the eastern slope of the Mayacamas Range.
Mop-up crews cut down many charred oaks along the road.
The marks made by the chain saw obscured more than half of the annual growth rings on this Valley Oak, but I still managed to count more than 300. The circumference of the stump is twenty-three feet.
This beloved tree stood as a landmark, the Guardian of the Western Gate of Lake County.
As a sentinel spirit, it thrived for probably six centuries before man's destructive ways finally caught up with it.
A scorched manzanita is adapted to sprout again from the roots.
Scorched ridges of the Mayacamas Range, and dense haze over the lake from the still-burning Ranch Fire.