Ranch Fire Update: Firefighters Make Good Headway on Tehama County Flames, Containment Grows

Days after California's Ranch Fire ignited, firefighters were able to make progress and increase containment to 40 percent.

Prime fire weather conditions in October, including strong winds, dry vegetation and hot temperatures, caused fires to ignite and spread, making it difficult for firefighters to contain the more than 10 that were burning at one time. As winds dissipated, firefighters were able to fully contain multiple devastating blazes, such as the Getty and Kincade fires, and rein in the Ranch Fire.

The Ranch Fire broke out on Sunday afternoon in Tehama County and has since burned through 2,534 acres of land. The fire injured three people, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), although it's unclear if the injured people were fire personnel or civilians.

While the steep terrain and lack of access to the area remained a challenge for firefighters on Thursday evening, the "diminished intensity of fire behavior" played to their favor. Firefighters were able to increase the containment perimeter from 32 percent to 40 percent.

At this point, firefighters have started fire suppression repair, which occurs after the flames die down and firefighters can return to their normal duties, according to Cal Fire. Fire suppression repair reduces the potential for excessive landscape erosion, thereby protecting natural and cultural resources. It's also intended to reduce the visual impacts of the fire line.

ranch fire update california wildfire
California firefighters were able to increase containment of the Ranch Fire from 32 percent to 40 percent on Thursday. California Department of Fire and Forestry Protection.

During fire suppression repair, personnel will install water diversion features, and unburned soil is put back in place to help native plants re-establish themselves. These rehabilitative efforts, Cal Fire explained, are "vital" to the area's long-term health.

Although the Ranch Fire burned a comparatively small area of land, smoke from the flames reached people well outside the fire's threat. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District reported on Monday that northerly winds near the Ranch Fire allowed smoke to move toward the Bay Area. Wildfire smoke can deteriorate air quality and pose health risks, but the Bay Area agency said that despite smoke being visible, air quality wasn't expected to exceed the federal standard.

The agency also issued an air quality warning for the Bay Area, encouraging residents to avoid exposure by staying inside with windows and doors locked. However, the warning expired on Wednesday, and the agency didn't issue another, indicating that the threat subsided.

On Wednesday, firefighters said the Kincade Fire, which reached almost 80,000 acres, was fully contained, making the Ranch Fire the largest active blaze in the state. As of Thursday evening, Cal Fire didn't have an estimated date for full containment.