The CZU Lightning Complex fire is now 80% contained and CAL FIRE is winding down Incident Management Team 3, leaving the fire in the hands of the locals starting tomorrow.

What does containment mean? Containment is about building a control line or perimeter around the fire. When they have confidence that the fire will not cross a part of that perimeter, they add it to the % contained. When they are sure of the entire perimeter, they’ll call it 100% contained.

100% containment does not mean that the fire has stopped burning, though. It only means it’s not spreading outward. There are still un-burned areas within the perimeter. We will probably see continued burning and smoke for some time.

After containment comes “mop up” of the control line. Some of this has been going on for a while, especially for parts of the line that were established early on. Mop up of the control line means completely extinguishing everything near the line, cutting down snags that might fall and roll through the line, etc.

Once they’ve mopped up along the control line, then they’ll start to push toward the interior of the fire. I think they’ll begin where access is the easiest, extinguishing what ever they find along roads and trails where they can bring their vehicles. Hopefully they can wrap up most of that work in a matter of weeks.

After the easy access areas, however, they’ll need to tackle all the steep terrain far from roads and trails. That’s a lot of work on foot, hopefully with support from helicopters, and that could take a while, maybe months.

Fortunately, in a couple of months we should start to get some rain and it’s the rainy season that will probably finally extinguish this fire for good.