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July 30, 2014
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2-acre fire in Foresthill; Sand Fire nears containment, others burn around NorCal

Firefighters are working to keep a 2-acre wildfire from growing in the Foresthill area, after lightning strikes that are expected to continue to pose fire danger to the Sierra and foothills region in coming days.

Randy Smith, Cal Fire Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit deputy chief, said two tankers from the Grass Valley Air Attack Base had just returned from the blaze at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, with the Air Attack unit still on scene.

“We’re holding that fairly well right now,” Smith said. “It’s difficult to access in a difficult location, with very heavy fuels.”

Smith said nine engines, two bulldozers and two crews were on the scene Wednesday morning with the assistance of a helicopter, as well as the Air Attack plane overhead. A fast and heavy-handed response to fires spotted are key, Smith said.

“Certainly, with the drought we’re trying do everything we can, and hit them as hard as we can, to keep them small,” Smith said. “With additional lightning today and tomorrow, things are starting to become rather active. But we’re going to continue to hit them hard.”

After scorching more than 4,000 acres and displacing hundreds of residents in Amador and El Dorado counties, the Sand Fire should soon be fully contained by firefighting personnel.

But several other fires in Northern California continue to burn.

According to Cal Fire, all evacuations related to the Sand Fire, east of Highway 49 five miles north of Plymouth, have been lifted and the Red Cross evacuation shelter has been closed. With more than 1,300 firefighters on the scene, the blaze is now 95 percent contained and is expected to be fully contained by Saturday, one week and one day after it was ignited by a car fire. The fire reportedly consumed a total of 4,240 acres and destroyed 19 residences and 47 outbuildings.

Fire crews are continuing work to keep a blaze — known as the El Portal Fire — in Yosemite National Park away from a grove of treasured giant sequoia trees.

Park spokesman Scott Gediman said Wednesday there was no imminent threat to Merced Grove. The fire was about 10 miles away, and crews were reinforcing old containment lines to prevent it from getting to the trees. Merced Grove is among three stands of giant sequoias in the park. The towering trees grow only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and are among the largest and oldest living things on earth.

Gediman said about 50 homes remained under evacuation orders. The fire, which began on Saturday, has burned through more than 5 square miles. It was 34 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

A fire in Butte County, the Web Fire, has burned 325 acres near Web Hollow and Big Chico Creek and is 60 percent contained, Cal Fire reported Wednesday morning. A total of 278 firefighting personnel are on the blaze, as crews work in stepped and rugged terrain to build control lines. Heat and extreme dry conditions continue to challenge the efforts, Cal Fire reported.


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The Union Updated Jul 31, 2014 04:37PM Published Jul 31, 2014 05:59PM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.