Fire officials don't expect to have the growing Ralston Fire in Foresthill contained for another week, and that means more smoky air for Nevada County residents.
The 4,464-acre wildfire east of Foresthill in the Tahoe and Eldorado National Forests was 11-percent contained Sunday and is not slated for complete containment until Sept. 18, according to a news release Sunday from Tahoe National Forest Public Affairs Officer Anne Westling.
Voluntary evacuations for the communities of Michigan Hill and Baker Ranch were lifted at 5 p.m. Saturday, while the firefighting strategy in the days ahead will focus on keeping the fire on Ralston Ridge and keeping it from crossing the American and Rubicon Rivers.
"Smoke is going to be visible as long as we have fire and these weather conditions," Tahoe National Forest spokesperson Sharon Corsini said Sunday evening. "The firefighting is occurring on the canyon edges and that can make it difficult to contain."
Temperatures in the Foresthill area were in the upper 80s Sunday afternoon and are predicted to return above seasonal norms Monday, Westling said.
Warmer and drier weather is forecast for later this week, she said, which will make the fire burn more aggressively and increase the probability of significant growth in the size of the fire.
Corsini said there were 11,185 fire personnel working on the fire from the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management and local fire departments, all holding fire lines and making helicopter water drops throughout the weekend.
Three firefighters with a state prison inmate hand crew were hurt by rolling debris while working on the southwestern portion of the fire at 5 p.m. Saturday.
"They were all minor to moderate injuries, and they were back on the fire line today," Tahoe National Forest Spokesperson Mary Furney said Sunday evening.
She said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Mosquito Ridge Road and Ralston Ridge Road are closed to the public. Residents can access their homes and there are no evacuation orders in place.
Nevada County residents who smell smoke are urged by CDF personnel to refrain from calling 911. Instead, concerned Nevada County residents should call the Ralston Fire Information line at 367-6550 or the Nevada County Information Line at 470-2920. Residents can also check out the latest Web updates on www.theunion.com or tune into KNCO radio station at AM 830.
To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4236.