Christopher Rosacker

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July 12, 2012
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Report: Robbers Fire 20% contained near Foresthill

Cooler overnight temperatures and lulled winds gave the more than 500 firefighters battling a 317-acre wildfire in the American River Canyon near Foresthill a chance to make progress Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

According to a Cal Fire report, firefighters have reached 20 percent containment as of 9 a.m. today.

The fire that had evacuated more than a 100 people was approximately contained, said Cal Fire spokeswoman JoAnn Cartoscelli said.

While the low winds stifled the fire's spread, it also hasn't dissipated smoke in the area, preventing aircraft from entering the area.

"It's is really smokey outside," Cartoscelli said. "All the aircrafts are ready, but the smoke needs to clear to get the aircraft in there."

With aircraft stymied, firefighters will focus on ground assault tactics to keep the fire from spreading, Cartoscelli said.

According to the report, 50 structures have been threatened by the blaze, although none reportedly destroyed. No injuries have been reported among residents or the 504 firefighters on the scene.

The fire sparked at 3:24 p.m. Wednesday, on the south side of the North Fork of the American River, on the Foresthill side. It was moving toward Iowa Hill. By 5 p.m., the fire was reported to be burning 70 acres, but by 7 p.m. it had more than doubled in size, the Cal Fire spokeswoman said.

"The objectives today is to provide safety, to life and property and resources and keep the fire within a box," Cartoscelli said.

Fire fighters are hoping to contain the blaze to the east side of the American River; north and west of Shirttail Canyon Road; and South of Iowa Hill.

It's an area known for its steep terrain, winding roads, beautiful views and forests often overgrown with brush and small trees - conditions that have made firefighting efforts difficult.

The cause remains under investigation.

Evacuations will continue for the more than 100 residents on 11 roads in the affected area, with area law enforcement officials standing by to increase evacuations if the fire continues to spread.

"They are aggressively going after this fire. We're putting everything on it," she added.

At least 35 engines responded from Nevada City, Nevada County Consolidated, Cal Fire, Placer Hills, South Placer, Loomis, New Castle, Penryn, Peardale-Chicago Park, Ophir Hill, Higgins, the U.S. Forest Service and other regional fire agencies, Cal Fire reported. Calfire as far fdown as Marin county

Support for the blaze Thursday morning included 20 hand crews, six air tankers, five helicopters and four bulldozers from Cal Fire, the agency reported. Several of those aircraft could be heard roaring out of and returning to the Grass Valley airport.

Residences along the river bottom, off Shirttail Canyon and Yankee Jim Road, were being evacuated beginning at about 5 p.m. Campers at Sugar Pine Reservoir also had been evacuated, for a total of about 100 people, Cartoscelli said.

An evacuation center is open in the Foresthill Veterans Memorial Hall at 24601 Harrison Road in Foresthill, for residents who have left their homes because of the Robbers Fire.

An evacuation center in Colfax was to open if needed, Cartoscelli said; she encouraged anyone with concerns to call the Placer County Office of Emergency Services at (916) 886-5310.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call (530) 477-4236.

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The Union Updated Jul 12, 2012 07:03PM Published Jul 12, 2012 12:00PM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.