Tucker Fire Ignites as California’s First Major Blaze of 2019

More than 14,000 acres have burned in the northern part of the state, and Direct Relief has offered assistance to local healthcare providers.


California Wildfires

Smoke from the Tucker Fire, photographed on July 28. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fire Service-Modoc)
Smoke from the Tucker Fire, photographed on July 28. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Fire Service-Modoc)

The Tucker Fire has scorched over 14,000 acres in northeastern California, quickly becoming the largest California fire of the year.

After gaining 10,000 acres on Monday, thanks to a windstorm in the area, the fire’s progress appeared to slow. Thus far, it’s been confined to rural Modoc County, which has a population of about 9,000 people.

The fire has affected several outbuildings and power lines, but structures and homes have not been damaged thus far. No evacuations have been ordered, although several communities have been warned that evacuation is a possibility.

The blaze is only about 10% contained thus far, although fire crews are strategically focusing on its northwest and southeast borders, hoping to hold off or potentially split it.

The weather over the next few days could have a significant effect on the Tucker Fire. The U.S. Forest Service’s California branch warned that “warm, dry conditions driving increased wildfire activity on National Forest lands in California,” and stronger winds and decreased humidity are expected later in the week, according to CAL FIRE.

Direct Relief has contacted several partners in the vicinity of the fire to offer medicines, supplies, and other assistance. Using its California Wildfires: Social Vulnerability Risk map, which shows which California communities are most likely to be badly affected by fires, the organization is able to keep track of particularly vulnerable areas and distribute supplies accordingly.

Fires can affect air quality for hundreds of miles around the flame perimeter; during the Camp Fire in 2018, the highest concentrations of smoke were found in the Bay Area, three hours away. That makes N-95 masks, which filter even tiny particles in the air, a vital part of wildfire response, along with first aid supplies and air filters.

But wildfires and other disasters can also cause longer-term health problems. Wildfires can worsen a respiratory or cardiovascular issue. People forced to evacuate quickly often leave vital medications behind, potentially exacerbating chronic conditions like diabetes. And displaced people frequently flee without necessary personal care items.

Direct Relief will continue to monitor the situation and offer help as needed.

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