Firefighters get a break |

Firefighters get a break

Monday’s high winds died down to intermittent gusts Tuesday, which made things easier for roughly 150 firefighters battling about 45 separate high country wildfires between Graniteville and Bowman Lake.

The 45 fires, which totalled between 300 and 400 acres, were mainly burning on Sierra Pacific Industries’ land.

The fires are “kind of freckled across the landscape,” said Mary Grim, a fire information officer for the Tahoe National Forest.

The blazes were sparked when high winds hit piles of smoldering logging debris. The timber company had ignited the piles about two weeks ago when snow was still on the ground.

“It was after the big storm that we had and it just blanketed that area with a fairly significant amount of snow,” said Ann Westling, TNF spokeswoman.

Westling said SPI could be billed for the firefighting. It’s too soon to put a price on it, she said.

“I would expect that they will receive a bill for a certain percentage of it,” Westling said. “It’s also important to know SPI worked hand-in-hand with us to assist in the fire suppression efforts.”

SPI officials couldn’t be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday.

About 150 firefighters fought the blaze, Westling said. Response included 10 engines, five hand crews, four bulldozers, four water tenders and a Forest Service air attack plane.

The air attack plane isn’t equipped to drop retardant; personnel in the small craft spotted fires and relayed information back to firefighting commanders.

Firefighters don’t expect to have the fires fully contained until this evening, Westling said.

Government agencies and businesses involved in the firefighting effort included the TNF, Plumas National Forest, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, SPI, crews from the California Youth Authority at Washington Ridge camp and CDF’s Growlersburg camp in Georgetown, the ’49er Fire Protection District, Robinson Enterprises, Inc. and other private companies.

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