North Complex Fire reaches over 60% containment; officials warn residents to monitor fire conditions


The North Complex Zone has burned nearly 290,000 acres and surpassed 60% containment since Friday’s community briefing. The West Zone of the fire, which is in Butte County, has burned nearly 80,000 acres at 50% containment. 

Although fire conditions have subsided significantly, Butte County Sheriff Kony Honea spoke of the danger of ignoring evacuation orders and warnings.

“I know there are people who stayed behind in the areas that were evacuated,” Honea said. “I also understand that there are people who were evacuated and want to get back in. If you are in one of those areas and there is a possibility that fire is going to come, you may have been lucky one time, but that doesn’t mean you are going to be able to survive another fire.”

News items from Saturday’s community briefing included: 

  • Nearly 1,400 structures have been destroyed
  • More than 900 residence structures destroyed
  • 27 major fires or complexes continue to burn in California
  • 22 new fires have started since Friday night 
  • 3.5 million acres have burned in California since Aug.15 
  • No new arrests have been made by the county 
  • Butte County has responded to 189 welfare calls; 174 have been located, and 15 are confirmed dead

Butte County continued to experience light winds, high humidity and clear skies on Saturday. This weather pattern is expected to continue in the coming days.

Steve Hannah, an incident meteorologist, said that he expects temperatures to stay low as smoke conditions persist.

“The highs should only reach the low 80s,” Hannah said. “The haziness will continue for the next few days. There are no large scale weather features moving into this area to move the smoke out of the area.” 

The recovery process for residents and officials has begun according to the Butte County Office of Emergency Management. 

Maria Hurtado, a senior administrative analyst at the office, will be managing the recovery process efforts. Hurtado said that staff inside and outside of the county are working on recovery strategies for fire survivors.

“While it’s unbelievable that we are going through this again, we want you to know that we have experienced staff and have established relationships to assist us with this process,” Hurtado said. “Our hearts remain with you and Butte Strong.” 

Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea participated in search and rescue efforts alongside other teams throughout the state. The search efforts yielded no new human remains.

“We’re very fortunate to have this assistance,” Honea said. “Search and rescue teams were made up solely of volunteers, not only from within our community but also other communities. They are very, very professional individuals and we are lucky to have them.” 

Officials introduced an interactive drone map at Friday’s community briefing. A YouTube video guide has been paired with the service to show users useful links and features for checking property status.  

Cal Fire and Butte County will not be holding a community briefing on Sept. 21 or Sept. 22. Viewership has dwindled as fire conditions in the county improve. Officials will resume the community briefing Sunday and again on Sept. 23.   

Matthew Wreden and Chloe Curtis can be reached at [email protected] or @bymattwreden and @ChloeCurtis__ on Twitter.