2015 Valley Fire

The Valley Fire was a wildfire during the 2015 California wildfire season that started on September 12 in Lake County, California. The fire started shortly after 1:00 pm near Cobb and by 6:30 PM had burned more than 10,000 acres (40 km2). By Sunday, the fire had reached 50,000 acres (202 km2) and had destroyed much of Cobb, Middletown, Whispering Pines, and parts in the south end of Hidden Valley Lake. The fire ultimately spread to 76,067 acres (308 km2), killed four people and destroyed nearly 2,000 buildings. The fire is the third-worst fire in California history based on total structures burned.

Fire progression

Middletown sign burning on September 13

The fire quickly spread into Middletown and Hidden Valley, threatening northern Sonoma County around The Geysers, and northern Napa County, approaching Pope Valley and Angwin.


In the first few hours of the fire, four CAL FIRE firefighters from the Boggs Mountain helitack crew suffered second-degree burns while engaging in initial attack on the fire. They were airlifted to the UC Davis Medical Center for treatment, where they were listed in stable condition.


On September 12, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Cobb, Middletown, Loch Lomond, Harbin Hot Springs, Hidden Valley Lake, the Clearlake Riviera, Riviera West, and Soda Bay communities of unincorporated parts of Kelseyville, Pope Valley and Angwin. Evacuation centers were established in the town of Kelseyville to the northwest and Calistoga to the southeast.


This area is home to at least 10,000 residents. Among the victims was new age artist Ray Lynch. By midnight of the first day, scores of homes and businesses had been destroyed in Middletown, along with at least 50 homes in Cobb as well as the entire Hoberg’s Resort, a historic retreat built in the 1880s. The resort community of Harbin Hot Springs was also destroyed. On September 13, officials from Cal Fire confirmed that more than 1000 homes had been destroyed.



The remains of one woman killed in the fire in Anderson Springs were found on September 13. On September 17, remains of two bodies were found in Anderson Springs and Hidden Valley Lake.


On September 23, Lake County deputies found human remains that belonged to a missing Cobb resident. It was confirmed to be the fourth fatality resulting from the fire.




Public support for firefighters in Lucerne, Lake County. The fire destroyed 1,955 structures, including 1,322 homes, 27 apartment buildings and 73 businesses. An additional 93 buildings were damaged.


The Mendocino County Health and Human Services Agency, in coordination with the American Red Cross, opened a shelter on September 13 at the Redwood Empire Fairgrounds in Ukiah to offer medical and mental health assistance, and meals to evacuees. It closed on September 18.


Multiple people were arrested for looting or attempting to loot from evacuated or abandoned homes as a result of the fire. On September 14, a man posing as a California Highway Patrol officer was arrested in Whispering Pines on suspicion of removing an artifact of archaeological interest. On September 17, three people were arrested by Lake County Sheriff's Deputies for attempting to loot from homes in Hidden Valley Lake. They were allegedly in possession of burglary tools and an unregistered firearm.


On September 18, the California National Guard came to Lake County to assist the county's law enforcement with the task of protecting evacuated communities from looters and trespassers. About 50 National Guard military police teams were set to arrive on September 19.