Last updated: Thursday, March 17, 2022
On Monday, August 17, 2020, lightning started a wildfire, which was named the 4-5 Fire, north of the junction of Woodward Valley Trail and the Coast Trail. On Tuesday, August 18, a second fire, initially named the 4-6 Fire and later renamed the Woodward Fire, was found nearby and, aided by gusty winds, quickly grew in size. By Thursday, October 1, 2020, the Woodward Fire was 100% contained at 4,929 acres in size. The Woodward Fire was declared out on Tuesday, January 12, 2021.
Ecologists consider the Woodward Fire to be ecologically beneficial because it had a mix of burn severity. That means it burned with high intensity in some places, and other places it burned lightly. This type of burn is in contrast with some of our larger, hotter fires that consume everything in its path.
Even though the fire was 100% contained by October 1, 2020, fuels in the interior area of the fire continued to burn until January 12, 2021. The fuels that continued to burn were large tree trunks, stump holes, and other areas with smoldering fuels that are very difficult to access. These areas occasionally produced light smoke, but posed no threat to the containment lines.
Even after the fire was declared out, the park continued to keep some areas and trails that are within the fire footprint closed to visitation. There were several reasons why this area has remained closed. First, the area needed to be thoroughly assessed for hazard trees. These are trees that have been burned and pose a falling threat to hikers. Second, trails needed to be completely cleared of debris and rehabilitated. Park staff worked to repair trails and fix drainage structures on the trails within the burn area. These repairs leave fresh disturbed soils on the trails with minimal compaction. Any foot, bicycle, or equestrian traffic during the time shortly after repairs are made damages—or can even destroy—these newly rebuilt drainage structures. Natural wetting and drying out of the soil give us the compaction we need for long-term durability, but the soils needed to remain undisturbed after park staff finish their work so that natural compaction process could happen. We thank visitors for their patience as we worked to improve the trails within the Woodward Fire zone.
Safety reminder: Park visitors and area residents are asked to be mindful of closure signs anywhere in the park. While it might not look dangerous, if you were to go into a closed area, and something were to happen to you and you required assistance, everyone entering the area to assist you might be put in harm's way. Thank you for your continued patience during this extraordinary time!
Updates about the Woodward Fire were posted on Point Reyes National Seashore's Facebook and Twitter pages, InciWeb's Woodward Fire Information page, and on the Marin County Fire Department's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts, as well as on this page.
Check out the Woodward Fire Photo Gallery further down this page.
Areas closed to all visitors due to the Woodward Fire and/or hazard trees.
As of September 16, 2022, all areas that were closed due to the Woodward Fire have been reopened. The one exception is that the Mount Wittenberg Trail will remain indefinitely closed to horses.
On Friday, August 21, 2020, Point Reyes National Seashore was closed to all public use due to the Woodward Fire. Since then, roads, trails, facilities, and areas have been reopened when it was safe to do so.
Respect the Closures
Burned Area Emergency Recovery (BAER) activity continues. Hazardous conditions, such as hazard trees, still exist. Conditions can change rapidly.
The Natural Laboratory Podcast
The Natural Laboratory is a series of podcasts produced by Pacific Coast Science and Learning Center Science Communication Interns, with support from Point Reyes National Seashore Association, exploring science from Bay Area National Parks. In "The Legacy of Fire at Point Reyes," Science Communication Intern Jerimiah Oetting dives into how the Woodward fire compares to its predecessor, the 1995 Vision fire. He also explores how climate change and fire suppression drive the increasing intensity of wildfire in the West. In "New Growth," Jerimiah speaks with fire ecologists and botanists about what that recovery will look like in the coming months and years, and what we can learn from Indigenous practices of managing the landscape with fire. In "How Wildlife Withstand Wildfires," Jerimiah speaks to park scientists to learn how certain vulnerable species might be impacted by wildfires.
Woodward Fire StoryMap
Learn more about the Woodward Fire by viewing the Woodward Fire StoryMap, created by Trisha Johnson, a GIS Analyst on the National Burned Area Emergency Response Team.
NBC Bay Area: Point Reyes Climate Hotspot: Climate Change Lengthens Wildfire Season (2 minutes 46 seconds) - January 28, 2021
Read more about the Woodward Fire
O'Gallagher, Maritte J., Gregory A. Jones, Lorraine S. Parsons, Dave T. Press, Wende E. Rehlaender, Stephen Skartvedt, and Alison B. Forrestel. 2021. "2020 Woodward Fire case study: Examining the role of fire as an ecological process in a coastal California ecosystem." Parks Stewardship Forum 37(2): 331–340. Available at https://doi.org/10.5070/P537253239 (accessed 03 September 2021)
Point Blue Conservation Science Blog
Humple, Diana, and Hillary Allen. 2023. "Birds in the Burn: Monitoring Response to the 2020 Woodward Fire." Point Blue Conservation Science Palomarin Blog June 23, 2023. Available at https://www.pointblue.org/palomarin_blog/birds-in-the-burn-monitoring-response-to-the-2020-woodward-fire/ (accessed 11 August 2023)
Public Fire Information
An interactive fire map for the Woodward Fire is available displaying evacuation warning areas, fire perimeter, satellite based thermal imagery, and other features. More features are in the works and will be added as they are finished.
Woodward Fire Boundary Maps
After Sunday, September 6, 2020, the Woodward Fire Boundary Maps will no longer be updated daily, only as needed going forward.
Evacuation Orders and Warnings
All Evacuation Warnings have been lifted as of 4 pm on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
The Marin County Sheriff's Office, in collaboration with the Marin County Fire Department, lifted the remaining Evacuation Warnings in West Marin at 4 pm on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.
Earlier Evacuation Orders and Warnings That Have Been Lifted or Reduced
Disclaimer: Daily between 8 am and 4:30 pm, park website authors will update the alerts above with any new information that becomes available. After 4:30 pm and before 8 am, visit the Marin County Sheriff's Office's Nixle page to check whether any alerts pertaining to the Woodward Fire have been posted while park website authors are off-duty, as well as for additional emergency alerts that are in effect in Marin County. Park website authors will add any alerts that are issued overnight when they return to work at 8 am each morning.
Visit FIRESafe MARIN's Wildfire Evacuation Preparedness page to learn how to register to receive evacuation notices & fire information, to learn the difference between Evacuation Warnings and Evacuation Orders, tips on how to harden your home and create defensible space, and how to prepare to evacuate.
Webinar: Evacuation & Warnings – How To Survive a Wildfire
On Tuesday, August 25, FIRESafe Marin hosed a webinar entitled "Webinar: Evacuation & Warnings – How To Survive a Wildfire" featuring Central Marin Fire Department Battalion Chief Todd Lando and 2018 Camp Fire evacuee and survivor Dr. Shannamar Dewey. A recording of the webinar is available of FIRESafe Marin's YouTube Channel.
With the transition of incident management for the fire from the Northern Rockies National Incident Management Team 2 to the Great Basin Incident Management Team 4, information will still come from the National Seashore's Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Status update briefings in the morning also transitioned to Point Reyes National Seashore's Facebook page and will continue to be on Zoom.
Woodward Fire status briefing: every other day at ~9:30 am
Beginning on Thursday, September 10, 2020, Great Basin Incident Management Team 4 Press Briefings will be offered every other day (i.e., Saturday, September 12; Monday, September 14; Wednesday, September 16) through Wednesday, September 16.
ASL and captioning available on all platforms, Spanish interpretation available on Zoom. Each day, English recordings are posted to YouTube and Facebook, and Spanish recordings are posted to YouTube.
ASL y subtítulos disponibles en todas las plataformas, interpretación en español disponible en Zoom. Cada día se publican grabaciones en inglés y español en YouTube y Facebook, y en español en YouTube.
Great Basin Incident Management Team 4 Press Briefings
View the Great Basin IMT's press briefings that were offered on:
Northern Rockies National Incident Management Team 2 Press Briefings
View the Northern Rockies National IMT's press briefings that were offered on:
North Bay Incident Management Team Press Briefings
From Wednesday, August 19, 2020, through Sunday, August 23, 2020, the Marin County Fire Department, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Marin County Sheriff's Department held press briefings about the Woodward Fire. Press briefings were live streamed on Marin County Fire Department's Facebook page. View the North Bay IMT's press briefings that were offered on:
The Marin County Fire Department, Point Reyes National Seashore, and the Marin County Sheriff's Department held a digital town hall on Saturday, August 22, 2020. The public were invited to submit questions in advance for park and fire officials to answer. The recording of the town hall is available on Facebook in only English and on YouTube in both English and Español.
We continue to receive generous donation offers and truly appreciate all of them. However, in order to keep all of our firefighters safe from potential exposure to COVID-19, we are not able to accept items from the community. If you would like to show support, please post "thank you" signs along roadways and in the community where the firefighters will see them. You may also consider making a donation to the Wildland Firefighter Foundation or a local charity.
Glossary of Wildland Fire Terms
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) maintains a glossary of more commonly used wildland fire terms on their InciWeb site, as well as a more comprehensive glossary that provides the wildland fire community a single source for wildland fire and incident management terminology commonly used by the NWCG and its subgroups.
Last updated: August 11, 2023