5-acre blaze contained
A massive, immediate response by more than 75 firefighters on land and in the air was able to contain a five-acre brush fire Sunday evening in the hills east of Pioneer Park in Nevada City.
Although one structure was threatened early on, firefighters using a variety of tools rapidly erased that threat and no structure damage was reported, said Cal Fire Capt. Fire Specialist John Hotchkiss.
“By 5:30 p.m., we had so many resources on it that it was not going to spread,” Hotchkiss said of the blaze, which was called in at 4:34 p.m.
“It was a dense area and steep terrain,” Hotchkiss said. “We had ‘dozers in there, a hand crew, and engines trying to work their way in there with hoses,”
In addition, Cal Fire and U.S. Forest Service helicopters pulled water out of a nearby pond, while Cal Fire air tankers, sent from the Cal Fire Air Attack base at Nevada County Airport, dropped retardant in lines to create breaks to block the blaze from spreading.
Hotchkiss said the lack of wind and the cooler temperatures as the evening approached helped get the flames under control rapidly.
“We’re very fortunate,” Hotchkiss said. He had no word on what started the blaze. Cal Fire will be investigating, he said..
Nevada County Consolidated Dept. Fire Marshal Terry McMahan said Cal Fire Air Attack planes were first on the scene. They helped guide firefighters to the blaze, which was buried deep in the wooded hills.
“We were trying to find a way to get in,” McMahan said.
Originally thought to be at Pasquale and Red Dog roads, Hotchkiss said the fire was later pinpointed as being between Red Dog and Gracie roads and the upper end of Silva.
Firefighters, using Pioneer Park as a staging area and the ballfields as a helipad, had the blaze 25 percent contained by 6:15 p.m. and were expected to have it fully contained fairly early in the evening, Hotchkiss said.
“We’ll have people here all night long (to watch for embers and any smoldering areas),” he said.
Despite earlier reports of evacuations at Gracie Shooting Range, there were no formal evacuations, Hotchkiss added.
In addition to Cal Fire and Nevada County Consolidated Fire District, respondents included Grass Valley, Nevada City, Ophir Hill, Rough and Ready and U.S. Forest Service fire departments and police from Nevada City and Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Hotchkiss said.
“They (fire engines) were racing back and forth,” said Nevada City civic leader Reinette Senum, who said she was in her living room near Pioneer Park when she heard the planes, helicopters and trucks go by. “They were on it so fast.”
Senum and others rushed outside to see smoke billowing from the hills as they watched from a high spot on Red Dog Road.
“I saw the smoke and jumped in my car,” she said. “Everyone heard a lot of commotion.”
Nick Norskog of Nevada City said he was in touch with his mother, Grass Valley pediatrician Sarah Woerner, to apprise her of changing events. Norskog, 27, who lives near the Chevron station close to Pioneer Park, said his family has outfitted the home with a fire hose and electric water pump to use in an emergency.
“I’m just sitting and waiting, just in case,” he said. “It’s looking pretty thick (with smoke) out there.”
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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