At least 1K acres burned, thousands evacuated, as fire at Bear River Campground rages (VIDEO) |

At least 1K acres burned, thousands evacuated, as fire at Bear River Campground rages (VIDEO)

A large smoke plume from the River Fire fills the air as the fire burned from the Bear River Campground, near Dog Bar Road, and toward Highway 174.

More than a thousand people have been evacuated and 1,000 acres burned Wednesday afternoon as a result of the River Fire that started at the Bear River Campground in Colfax, authorities said.

The fire, which was zero percent contained as of 5:40 p.m. Wednesday, spread rapidly after initially being reported at 2:02 p.m., according to Cal Fire spokesperson Mary Eldridge. Just one acre at that time, the blaze grew to approximately 100 acres by 3:30 p.m., threatening homes and forcing evacuations along Highway 174.

Flames from the River Fire burn vegetation down to Taylor Crossing Road, near Dog Bar Road, Wednesday afternoon.
Photo: Elias Funez

Residents living near areas such as Orchard Springs resort, Mount Olive, and Clydesdale Road were among those still under mandatory evacuation orders as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. At least 1,012 people had already been evacuated by 4 p.m., with more expected, according to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.

Authorities battled to keep pace with the rapidly expanding blaze, with some sheriff’s deputies having to quickly flee the fire’s approach on Meyer Road in Chicago Park, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Andrew Trygg.

A Type 1 very large air tanker makes a retardant drop over a flank of the River Fire Wednesday afternoon near Taylor Crossing Road in Nevada County.
Photo: Elias Funez

It is unknown yet whether there have been any injuries or structures damaged or destroyed by the fire, Eldridge said.

Residents in areas further north of the fire’s origin along Highway 174, such as those living near Mulberry Lane, Sontag Hill, and Tahoe View Drive were not yet ordered to evacuate, but were placed under evacuation warnings late Wednesday afternoon.

The specific evacuation zones can be viewed at, and anyone in the general vicinity of the evacuation zones is encouraged to check this website and listen to updates from authorities as to the fire’s progress, according to Twitter posts by the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services.

A pair of horses are evacuated along Dog Bar Road from the River Fire, which burned over 1,000 acres in Nevada County Wednesday.
Photo: Elias Funez

Evacuation centers for residents forced from their homes were set up at the Auburn Veterans Memorial Hall, 100 East St., Auburn, as well as at the Gold Country Fairgrounds & Event Center at 209 Fairgate Road in Auburn, according to the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

The Nevada County Fairgrounds is being used as an evacuation point for pets and livestock threatened by the fire’s advance, according to fairgrounds CEO Patrick Eidman. All types of animals will be accepted and anyone interested in dropping off their pets or livestock should come to the fairgrounds through the entrance at Gate 8 on Brighton Street, Eidman said.

Several roads were closed Wednesday as a result of the fire’s progress. Highway 174 between Lower Colfax Road and Bear River Bridge, the off- and on-ramps on Interstate 80 at the junction with Highway 174, and the intersection of Canyon Way/Placer Hills Road with Interstate 80 were all closed as of 5 p.m., according to Caltrans via an announcement on social media.

Flames reach from the flashy lower fuels into the tree tops along Taylor Crossing Road near Dog Bar Road during the River Fire Wednesday afternoon.
Photo: Elias Funez

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User