Evacuations, road closures lifted in Lowell fire | TheUnion.com

Evacuations, road closures lifted in Lowell fire

All evacuation advisories and orders — and all road closures — have been lifted in the Lowell fire that broke out July 25 in the Steep Hollow drainage in the You Bet area.

But the 2,304-acre fire, which was listed at 85 percent containment Monday morning, continues to smolder and creep in heavy timber areas, according to an incident update.

Heavier fuels were reportedly continuing to consume well inside the containment lines, as a modest cooling trend moved in Monday.

The public was urged to use extreme caution as firefighters and equipment continue to work in the fire areas and surrounding communities.

Tahoe National Forest lands that were closed last week also have been reopened.

With the Lowell Fire approaching full containment, an emergency closure order for selected National Forest System lands, roads and trails on the Tahoe National Forest related to the Lowell Fire, was rescinded Monday.

“I am pleased that we can reopen this area of the Tahoe National Forest,” said Karen Hayden, District Ranger for the Yuba River Ranger District, in a press release. “This area of the forest has many trails popular with OHV riders, mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians, and other recreationists. However, forest visitors should be aware of equipment and vehicles in the area engaged in fire and rehabilitation activities.”

Full containment of the fire is projected for Aug. 10, and the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

At one point, as many as 2,400 firefighters were working to control the fire; on Monday, there were 530 firefighters assigned to the area.

The Lowell Fire continues to threaten about 54 structures in Placer and Nevada counties, down from an estimated 1,800 structures. Two structures were reportedly destroyed, and three damaged, by the fire.

A total of six firefighters have been injured in the attempt to extinguish the blaze; five were treated and released for minor injuries.

U.S. Forest Service wildland firefighter Matt Aoki suffered more serious second and third degree burns on his hands and face on July 26, and was hospitalized at the Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center at UC Davis Medical Center.

Other small fires caused by lightning broke out over the weekend on the Tahoe National Forest, but all have been contained.

Throughout the weekend, firefighters were hard at work locating and suppressing new lightning fires. Since Friday, there have been 24 new fires on the Tahoe National Forest; nearly all of those fires were less than an acre.

Two fires, Erie and Poorman, on the Yuba River Ranger District north of the town of Washington, reached 3.5 and 4 acres, respectively.

“Tahoe National Forest firefighters have done an outstanding job of catching new fires and keeping them small,” said Shelly Allen, Fire Management Officer, in a press release. “With several large fires now burning across California, aggressive initial attack of new fires is essential.”

Smoky conditions on the west side of the Tahoe National Forest are from other large wildfires burning in the state and not a result of local fires.

The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, in collaboration with Nevada County Public Health, has updated its air quality health advisory through Friday, including the potential for ozone concentrations in western Nevada County to reach into the high end of moderate.

Smoky conditions are likely to be experienced in parts of Nevada County due to smoke from the Rocky Fire in Lake County.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.

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