1 dead in Butte wildfire | TheUnion.com

1 dead in Butte wildfire

Shifting weather patterns and winds may not help firefighters battling the rekindled Camp Fire near Concow in Butte County, where an unidentified person was found dead Friday.

Fires in Butte, Placer and Plumas counties continue to blanket the Sierra foothills with thick smoke, while wildfires blaze on in other parts of Caifornia.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday ordered an additional 2,000 state National Guard personnel to complete firefighter training. On Thursday, the federal government committed to sending out-of-state firefighters to train the guardsmen.

Mike Davis, of Smartsville, has been taking photos of the Butte County blaze for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection during the past three weeks.

The freelance photographer shot pictures of the fire after it broke out from the lightning strikes last month.

“The first fire was an underburn, but the second time it burned through the treetops,” Davis said Friday before returning to the battle. “The problem is, the winds pick up there every night around midnight,” rekindling the blazes.

One engine from the Grass Valley Fire Department is at the Butte County fire that has burned through Concow and continues to threaten the town of Paradise, according to Spike Newby, a battalion chief with the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District.

“They’ve been there for three days now on structure protection in the Concow area,” said Grass Valley Fire Chief Jim Marquis.

Five engines from various county departments are at the Canyon Complex in Plumas and Butte counties as well, Newby said. Local tree fallers are helping out at the Shasta Lightning Complex in Shasta County.

Consolidated Chief Tim Fike and Grass Valley Fire Department member Tom Browning are serving with the U.S. Forest Service team fighting the Cub Complex of fires on the Lassen National Forest, Newby said.

The Fall Fire near Bowman Lake in Nevada County continues to burn down toward Canyon Creek, according to the Tahoe National Forest. The estimated time of containment is next Tuesday.

The news was not so good on the merged Government Springs and Westville fires in Placer County. The blaze that caused a large amount of Nevada County’s smoky conditions was still only 10 percent out, with a projected Aug. 1 containment.

Capt. Scott McLean of the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection confirmed the Concow death Friday but did not provide any details. He said it was not a firefighter.

The complex of blazes in Butte County already has destroyed 50 homes in Concow and forced some 10,000 residents of Paradise to flee.

Firefighters battling the out-of-control wildfires in the Sierra Nevada foothills thought they had caught a break Friday when strong winds they feared could blow hot embers across fire lines toward thousands of homes did not immediately materialize. The northeast winds forecast for the morning were expected to be similar to those that caused the fire to flare up earlier this week.

It was not immediately clear if the fatality occurred during Friday’s fire activity.

Officials have said this unprecedented fire season, plagued by drought and high temperatures, has seen the most fires burning at any one time in recorded California history. Most of the blazes began during a massive June 21 lightning storm that sparked 800 wildfires across Northern California.

This year had been remarkable not only for the scope of the fires but also for the low number of fatalities and major injuries so far.

During a separate fire in Paradise last month, an elderly woman died after suffering a heart attack while voluntarily evacuating.

On July 2, a volunteer firefighter collapsed on the fire line in Mendocino County. Robert Roland, 63, died at the hospital a day later.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.

Fires update

n Butte Lightning Complex: 49,000 acres burned, 55 percent contained.

n American River Complex: 18,000 acres burned, 20 percent contained.

n Canyon Complex (Plumas County): 27,000 acres burned, 55 percent contained.

Source: CalFire

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