Area fires nearing containment – clear skies ahead |

Area fires nearing containment – clear skies ahead

Helped by hotshot crews, infrared detectors and water drops from helicopters, firefighters have managed to get the American River Complex fires 75 percent contained, Tahoe National Forest officials said Sunday.

In Grass Valley, residents will face better air and clear skies this week despite the ongoing fires, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

In addition, the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District has not ordered any more air quality alerts.

Firefighters in Placer County worked to suppress the northeastern flank of the Government Springs-Westville Fire on Saturday.

Sunday crews continued to struggle across the steep, rugged terrain of Big Valley Canyon, aided by helicopters bearing huge buckets of water. Crews held infrared detectors to find hotspots and put them out.

“Expected higher relative humidities and recovering fuel moistures will help firefighters maintain existing fire lines on the northeastern flank of the fire along the American River,” the Tahoe National Forest said in a statement.

Officials expect to contain the American River Complex fires by Aug. 1. Blazes have blackened more than 20,500 acres so far.

In the meantime, more firefighter training is underway to deal with fires that could break out during the most disastrous fire season in California’s modern history.

The California National Guard began a three-day training exercise Saturday to learn basic firefighting skills.

More than 2,000 fires, most sparked by lightning June 21, have been contained through the efforts of state, local and federal personnel and equipment from California, the rest of the nation and several foreign countries, according to the state fire and forestry agency, CalFire.

The 55,000-acre BTU Lightning Complex in Butte County – which took one life, burned homes and forced the evacuation of the town of Paradise – is now 90 percent contained, according to the U.S. National Interagency Fire Center.

The 35,000-acre Canyon Complex fires in Plumas County are 71 percent contained, while the nearly 20,000-acre Cub Complex fires in the Lassen National Forest are 95 percent contained.

Almost 300,000 acres have burned or are on fire in Northwestern California in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest and the Six Rivers National Forest.

Statewide, fires have scorched nearly 941,000 acres, CalFire reported.

To contact Editor Jeff Pelline, e-mail or call 477-4235. To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail or call 477-4237.

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