As firefighters battle Lowell Fire, Nevada County community does its part to help
Location: In the Steep Hollow drainage west of Alta
Acres burned/Containment: 2,303 acres/40 percent contained
Estimated containment: Aug. 1, 2015
Structures threatened: 1,800 in Placer and Nevada counties
Cooperating agencies: Cal OES, CHP, Nevada County Sheriff, Placer County Sheriff, USFS, BLM, and PG&E.
Total fire personnel: 2,429
Total fire engines: 210
Total fire crews: 70
Total airtankers: 7
Total helicopters: 17
Total dozers: 47
Total water tenders: 19
Cause: Under investigation. Investigators are no longer looking for the vehicle of interest and appreciate all of the tips from the public.
Upgraded to a more than 2,300-acre blaze in the Steep Hollow drainage west of Alta, the Lowell Fire is reported to be 45 percent contained as of 7 a.m. Wednesday.
While Cal Fire officials estimate the fire to be fully contained by the end of the week, local businesses and groups continue to lend a helping hand to evacuated families, and the more than 2,400 fire personnel battling the blaze head on.
“The Nevada County community is a very tight community, and has had its share of wildfires,” Cal Fire spokesperson Daniel Berlant said. “Residents always come together to show their support and we appreciate that. We’re very thankful for the support.”
First reported to be anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 acres, the fire was reassessed on Monday at about 1,700 acres.
On Tuesday, though, Cal Fire officials marked the coverage area up to 2,303 acres after the fire continued to grow in the northwest section of the blaze Monday night, after gusty winds fanned the flames, Berlant said.
According to Cal Fire reports, the fire was active through Monday night with multiple uphill runs. While hundreds of firefighters are actively battling the fire from the air and ground, high temperatures and low humidity continued throughout Tuesday, making access to the fire challenging.
Cal Fire units and other assisting agencies continue to set up a local command post at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, which is housing more than 700 individuals, as well as large equipment required to fight the fires.
During Cal Fire’s Tuesday morning brief, fire personnel were asked to take safety precautions when operating near large marijuana grows in the area, due to potential booby traps that may be hazardous to firefighters.
To help accommodate the more than 2,400 fire personnel battling the fire, local Save Mart Supermarket employees in Grass Valley’s Fowler Center fulfilled a Cal Fire order for 500 sandwiches, starting work at 4 a.m. Tuesday.
“We had somewhere between 10 and 15 employees in here, and we created an assembly line, slicing meat and making sandwiches,” Store Manager Ryce Hopkins said. “We have several employees that are affected by the fire, and all the employees were very proud to be able to support Cal Fire and their efforts, because they are out there putting it on the line to save our homes.”
A Starbucks store located in the Pine Creek Shopping Center in Nevada County has created a community gift card for firefighters looking to grab a free snack or cup of Joe before heading out to the fire.
The $100 gift card was donated by local Starbucks employees on Sunday morning, though local residents have continued to donate.
“The card is sitting at $360,” Store Manager Megan Cross said. “The firefighters will come in and we’ll just grab the card and say that the community has donated money so they can have a free coffee or breakfast. They are coming from all over the state and are doing so much that we want to make sure we are helping them out.”
Currently, there are still around 1,800 structures threatened by the fire in Placer and Nevada counties, and local road closures include Red Dog Road at both Chalk Bluff and Buckeye Ridge roads.
Banner Quaker Hill Road at Lower Greenhorn and Chalk Bluff roads, and Lowell Hill Road at Mule Spring Road have also been issued a road closure, according to the Cal Fire website.
Evacuation warnings have been issued for Red Dog and You Bet roads east of Greenhorn Creek, as well as Chalk Bluff and Lowell Hill roads.
An evacuation advisory is also in place for the Cascade Shores community; a shelter center for five evacuated families has been opened at First Baptist Church, located at 1866 Ridge Road in Grass Valley.
The church’s Administrative Secretary Sue Parker said the American Red Cross shelter was moved from Nevada Union High School Monday afternoon.
Since mandatory evacuations have been lifted, the shelter will close 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, though Parker says they will continue to do their part.
“We’ve done this before in the past, and our church members have been dropping in and out to help,” she said. “We’re being the hands and feet of Jesus. We absolutely love being able to do this and provide this service to our community.”
For more information on the Lowell Fire, call 530-823-4083, or go to http://www.calfire.ca.gov.
To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.
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