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Wednesday, September 16, 2015


OK, there have been a hellish number of huge wildfires this summer in Lake County, but in the unburned sections life carries on...

Coyote at the foot of the Hopland Grade.

From the September garden.

California quail cock.

In a squash blossom.

Gideon Jacques Denny's 1876 painting " The City of Lakeport, Clearlake, CA"


The hills are alive with the sound of incendiary music. 

In August, the Rocky Fire tore through 69,438 acres and the Jerusalem Fire scorched 25,146 acres (which was the count at the 85 percent containment point. I could not locate the final figure). The Elk Fire near Upper Lake burned 673 acres. 

The Rocky Fire swept through 100 percent of the Cache Creek Wilderness, refuge for California's largest herd of Tule Elk occupying native range. (The larger Owens Valley elk herd, east of the Sierra, is on non-native range). Strangely, only one week earlier the whole complex of wild lands stretching over a hundred miles through Eastern Napa County through Northern Lake County had been officially designated as the Berryessa-Snow Mountain National Monument, the result of long effort by local people concerned with preserving unspoiled land. Four major fires, the Rocky, the Jerusalem, the Elk, and, in Napa County, the Wragg fires wrought destruction within the new National Monument. UC Davis' Stebbins Cold Canyon Reserve took a heavy hit in the Wragg fire within the southern limits of the Monument. 

Three years earlier, the Wye Fire and the Walker Ridge Fire burned 7,934 acres, the Mill Valley Campground Fire consumed 29,502 acres, the Sites Complex Fire claimed 4,000 acres, and the Sixteen Complex Fire took 17,944 acres, a combined total of 59,380 acres, much of which was within the proposed Monument.

So far, the still surging and most destructive of all the conflagrations, the Valley Fire, has wiped out over 70,000 acres along with almost 600 houses in Middletown, Anderson Springs, Harbin Springs and Cobb. Currently raging in a southeasterly direction, having started on Cobb Mountain, it took out a large part the Boggs Mountain Demonstration State Forest.  

Oak savannah just north of Highway 20 barely escaped the Rocky Fire.

Lands and endemic gray pines scorched by the Rocky Fire along the south side of Highway 20.

A blackened mountain.

Charred trunk of a Valley Oak.

Smoke from the Rocky Fire over Mount Konocti as seen from the ranch.

Heavy smoke from the Rocky Fire backdrops the pear harvest.

Route 20 divides the territories burnt by the Wye  Fire in 2012 on the right form that burnt by the Rocky Fire in 2015.

Smoke from the Valley Fire on the afternoon of 9/12/15 created eery lighting similar to that seen during an eclipse.

 As the sun disappeared, the smoke of the Valley Fire glowed ominously. Middletown was burning.