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3 more victims identified in North Complex West Zone fire | Update

According to Butte County Sheriff, there are 15 people who died in the North Complex West Zone fire.

Three more victims in the North Complex West Zone fire were identified by Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea during Cal Fire's news conference on Tuesday. 

Those individuals were identified as the following:

  • Jacob Albright, 74  
  • Paul Winer, 68
  • Randy Harrell, 67

As of publication, there are are a total of 15 people who died from the North Complex fire.

According to Cal Fire, the North Complex West Zone fire is currently 77,329 acres and is 25% contained. The entire fire is 273,335 acres and is 34% contained.

So far, 449 homes are confirmed to have destroyed and another 29 were damaged in the fire. Officials said 46 commercial structures were destroyed and 24 were damaged. 

North Complex West Zone Fire Update 9.15.20 #ButteSheriff #NorthComplexWestZone

Posted by Butte County Sheriff on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

5:30 p.m. update:

Another evacuation order for the North Complex West Zone fire burning in Butte County has been downgraded.

According to the Butte County Sheriff's Office, all of Cherokee Road from Thompson Flat Road north to Highway 70 including the area east of Cherokee Road to the lake and the evacuated area west of Cherokee Road has been reduced to an evacuation warning. 

Authorities say residents may return to their homes, but should also be on the ready to evacuate again should the situation call for it.

4 p.m. update:

With distance learning disrupted for many school-aged children in Butte County, the county office of education has compiled a number of resources to help those affected by the wildfire

These resources include mental health, food relief, and housing and shelter. 

The IT Team at Butte County Office of Educations has been working hard behind the scenes across  to ensure that students & teachers have support to continue distance learning.

Meanwhile, another good resource, the Oroville branch of the Butte Public Library, is open for limited services and with social distancing measures in place. 

3:00 p.m. update:

The North Complex Fire sits at 269,358 acres and is 32% contained, despite morning reports saying the containment was at 39%. 

The West Zone, formerly known as the Bear Fire, holds steady at 76,900 acres and 20% containment. 

Even as some evacuation warning were lifted this morning and people return to their residences, the fire continues to grow. 

Butte County has put out guidance on safely returning to homes and properties that have been affected by the wildfires. 

When returning to areas that have been impacted by the fire, it is important to use caution. Please review this...

Posted by Butte County, California on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

People are asked to be mindful that these areas are still dangerous. There could still be burning embers and ash, fallen debris, and unstable structures. Residents should not try to remove any debris or ash as this can be harmful. The county also offers some tips on food and water safety

1:30 p.m. update:

Six people have been arrested on Tuesday in the Bear Fire evacuation zone, says the Butte County Sheriff's Office in a press release

Guadalupe Garcia, 42, Guadalupe Garcia Jr., 22, William Peterson, 61, and Anthony Gannett have been booked in the Coutny jail for trespassing in an evacuation zone and conspiracy. The four men were reportedly planning to cultivate and sell cannabis. Gannett, who is from Berry Creek, also had a previous arrest warrant and was in possession of methamphetamine.   

Cristian Ayala, 32, and Burt Floyd, 50, both of Lincoln, were arrested for trespassing in an evacuation zone. All six individuals are schedule to appear in court on Sept. 17.

The men were caught after an evacuated North Complex West Zone survivor checked his home surveillance cameras from an offsite location and discovered someone tresspassing on his property. That resident alerted the police immediately.  

Two other people were arrested on Monday. Christina Lafayette, 33, and Robert Tramonte, 42, both of Forbestown were found in the evacuation zone after having unlawfully entered. 

12:30 p.m. update:

Residents affected by the North Complex wildfires may run into issues when voting. Butte County's Registrar of Voters Candace Grubbs has important information for those displaced because of the fires. 

If you have temporarily moved by plan to return, you can still use your fire-affected property address for voting, but you must update your mailing address. The same goes for those who have not decided whether or not to move. 

For displaced voters who do not plan to return, you must change your address to receive up-to-date election mail. 

Here is how to get in contact with your local elections office:

Butte County

  • 155 Nelson Avenue, Oroville
  • Call: (530) 552-3400 or email: elections@buttecounty.net

Plumas County

  • 520 Main Street, Room 102, Quincy
  • Call: (530) 283-6256 or email: clerkrecorder@countyofplumas.com

Lassen County

  • 220 S Lassen Street, Annex, Susanville
  • Call: (530) 251-8217 or email: lcclerk@co.lassen.ca.us

Yuba County

  • 915 8th Street, Suite 107, Marysville
  • Call: (530) 749-7855

11:00 a.m. update: 

Butte County Sheriff's Office will provide escorted access to areas impacted by fires in the North Complex West Zone. Though this program is not available yet, the Sheriff's office will notify the public when it begins.

The Sheriff's office hopes to get the program up and running by next week.

However, "firefighters, utility companies, they're still working to make sure some these areas are safe," said Sheriff Kory Honea. As such, requests to access areas that are still unsafe will not be accommodated.

"We do that for everyone's safety," Sheriff Honea said. "Not only yours, but the safety of our law enforcement officers, our firefighters, as well as the utility workers that are up there trying to get this place safe."

10:00 a.m. update:

There has been some progress made on the North Complex Fire, as the strong winds and low humidity that were expected on Monday did not materialize, Cal Fire said. Those fire weather conditions are not expected to crop up in the next two days, either. 

"Firefighters continue to be successful in strengthening several existing containment lines, developing new containment lines and extinguishing several interior hot spots in an attempt to prevent further spread," Cal Fire said in a statement

However, there is still potential for spread. Though challenges in the form of weather have been mitigated for now, fire crews are still struggling with rugged terrain. One firefighter was reportedly injured on Monday because of this difficulty. 

Mandatory evacuation orders and advisories are still in place for Butte, Plumas, and Yuba Counties, though the evacuation order for Highway 162 from Forbestown Road north to the Bidwell Bar Bridge, to include the area on both sides of the roadway, has been reduced to a warning. More information on the area the warning encompasses can be found here

Original story: 

On Monday, Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea reported the death toll from the North Complex West Zone Fire now sits at 15 people.

Honea also said during a news conference as they continue identify victims, the number of people now missing now sits at two people still remain missing.

The identities of the victims are:

  • Khawar Bhatti, 58 of Berry Creek
  • Millicent Catarancuic, 77 of Berry Creek
  • Josiah Williams,16 of Berry Creek.
  • John Butler, 79, of Berry Creek
  • Sandra Butler, 75, of Berry Creek
  • Jorge Hernandez-Juarez, 26, of Berry Creek
  • Philip Rubel, 68, of Berry Creek

The lightning-started fire that has been burning since Aug. 17, 2020, currently sits at 39% containment and has since burned 264,565 acres. The North Complex West Zone, formerly the Bear Fire, has burned roughly 76,900 acres and is still only 20% contained. During Monday evening's Cal Fire report, Fire Behavior Analyst Jonathan Pangburn said Monday was a day with a fair amount of success. While there is always the potential for growth, he said the fire isn't expected to see any major growth in the West Zone.

As of Tuesday, Sept. 15, over 700 buildings have been destroyed, with an additional 40 damaged. 

Cal Fire has released a map of damaged and destroyed structures due to the North Complex and North Complex West Zone fires

Click HERE to check the air quality near where you live.

Click HERE for the latest evacuation information from the Butte County Sheriff's Office

Click HERE for the latest evacuation information from the Plumas County Sheriff's Office.

Click HERE for the latest evacuation information from the Yuba County Sheriff's Office

National Interagency Fire Center live map of the fire's location (it might take a few seconds for the fires to show up on the map):

Multiple roads in areas surrounding the fires are still closed

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