Dave Moller

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September 6, 2007
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Plumas fire at 28,460 acres; 500 homes threatened


Winds pushed wildfire smoke out of Nevada County Thursday, but the Moonlight Fire is still raging in the Plumas National Forest, and one home has been lost to the blaze.

The National Weather Service in Sacramento predicted winds today initially would push the smoke to the west. But strong gusts from the west and southwest could push the smoke back into the foothills by the afternoon.

If smoky conditions return, residents are urged to curtail strenuous outdoor activity. Children, the elderly and anyone with respiratory problems should stay indoors, as well.

In Plumas County, about 500 homes are threatened by the Moonlight Fire. Approximately 100 residences were evacuated near Greenville in the North Arm area of Indian Valley, according to Mark Beaulieu of the PNF.

One unoccupied summer home burned, but no one had been injured by late Thursday. Another 400 homes in Genesee and Taylorsville were put on evacuation alert due to the Plumas County blaze.

The fire flared to 28,000 acres and was held at that size, but it was only 10 percent contained as of Thursday afternoon. Calming winds caused the fire to drop from the crowns of trees to the forest floor, slowing its spread, Beaulieu said.

"It allows for a lot more aggressive attack" by air tankers and water-dropping helicopters, Beaulieu said. "We should be making some good progress."

The aerial attack was based out of nearby Chester Airport, allowing for quick drops and refills of water and fire retardant, Beaulieu said.

The fire broke out southeast of Mountain Meadows Reservoir near Westwood in Lassen County on Labor Day. A proposed large ski resort area between the reservoir and Westwood has yet to be threatened.

The human-caused blaze started on private property and is still under investigation, PNF officials said. It is now burning on steep slopes in an area thick with trees, with about 2,300 firefighters at the scene.

Shifting winds pushed smoke from the fire into the Sacramento Valley and Bay Area at midweek and into Nevada and Idaho to the east and northeast.

For updates on the blaze, log on to www.inciweb.org/incident/978.

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To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail davem@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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The Union Updated Sep 7, 2007 01:47AM Published Sep 6, 2007 03:00AM Copyright 2007 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.