‘I saw the smoke’: Fire near Nevada County Fairgrounds forces some evacuations, is quickly suppressed | TheUnion.com

‘I saw the smoke’: Fire near Nevada County Fairgrounds forces some evacuations, is quickly suppressed

One moment, Dalton Collier was relaxing on his couch watching the daily news at his Primose Lane residence. A few minutes later, he’d gathered his pre-packed go-bag and was headed out the door.

“I was just sitting here, watching the news and I saw the smoke coming up, so I ran outside and ran right into a sheriff’s patrol near here,” Collier said. “He asked me, ‘Do you live here?’ I said, ‘Yeah’—and he said ‘You’re to evacuate.”

Collier’s house on Primrose Lane was one of 24 homes evacuated by authorities, as a vegetation fire that started near the Nevada County Fairgrounds around 1 p.m. Monday began to spread, forcing the Grass Valley Police Department to close Highway 20 for several miles and issue some evacuation orders near the fairgrounds.

However, by around 3 p.m. the fire was already extinguished, as firefighters quickly responded to the scene and were able to establish a perimeter around the blaze, limiting the damage to under an acre, Grass Valley Fire Chief Mark Buttron said.

The evacuation orders, which were issued to residents living near Brighton Street and Primose Lane off Highway 20, were lifted before 3 p.m., according to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office. And Highway 20, which had been initially closed to traffic between Grass Valley and Penn Valley, had also been opened to traffic by that time, Buttron said.

Collier and other residents in the Primrose Lane neighborhood could see smoke coming from the area around the fairgrounds just after 1 p.m.


With the county moving into this year’s fire season, Collier said that he is constantly on the alert for any word of a fire in his area, and keeps a couple of bags packed for emergencies.

“I have a bag packed with my personal papers and some other stuff, as well as a briefcase with some other personal belongings, and I just grabbed those and went out the door,” Collier said. “I should probably be a little more thorough in packing more toiletries and clothes, though, now that I think about it,” he added with a laugh.

Collier said that he and his son also checked on one of their more elderly neighbors nearby, as they were concerned about her being able to evacuate in a timely fashion due to her limited mobility. The streets around the Primrose Lane neighborhood became flooded with traffic during the evacuation order, he said, adding that “it was a little crazy getting out of here.”

Just 90 minutes after evacuating, Collier received word that the evacuations had been halted, and he was able to return home.

No structures were damaged and no injuries resulted from the blaze, Buttron said. The evacuations near Primrose Lane were largely a precaution.

Some of the trees in the neighborhood appeared to have been threatened by the fire, the fire chief added.

The fire itself was actually a conglomeration of eight smaller, separate blazes in the area that appeared to be related, Buttron said, but he declined to speculate as to the their cause, as the incident is still under investigation.

Personnel with the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, the Grass Valley Fire Department, Penn Valley Fire, Cal Fire, and other agencies assisted in containing and suppressing the blaze, Buttron said.

Stephen Wyer is a staff writer with The Union. He can be reached at swyer@theunion.com

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