Nevada County residents return to homes as evacuation order lifted
October 12, 2017
The final evacuation order was lifted for the Lobo Fire almost four days after the first flames began to spread through Nevada County.
The necessary safety checks made, authorities at noon Thursday allowed people back into the Rough and Ready area — ending the last mandatory evacuation zone caused by two wildfires that continue to burn.
The Lobo Fire, at 829 acres Thursday morning, destroyed buildings and left thousands without power, though only about 60 PG&E customers had no power that afternoon. The fire was at 52 percent containment Thursday evening.
Residents of the final evacuation area were allowed in as firefighters continued their work to contain the blaze and ensure no embers restarted parts of the fire.
Before the evacuation was lifted firefighters examined electrical poles and lines as assessment teams checked damaged and destroyed buildings, said Mary Eldridge, public information officer with Cal Fire.
"That's a top priority — people obviously want to get back inside their homes," Eldridge said about an hour before the evacuation order was lifted.
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The county's second blaze — the McCourtney Fire, near the Nevada County Fairgrounds — reached 76 acres Thursday evening. It was 89 percent contained.
The McCourtney Fire's mandatory evacuation previously was lifted.
"Containment" is a word used to designate that firefighters have cut a line around a blaze that's at least the width of nearby fire fuels. If nearby grass is a foot tall, the line — cut to bare mineral soil — must at least be a foot wide, Eldridge said.
"That also means trimming up trees," she added.
County officials announced the closure of its shelters shortly after the evacuation was lifted.
Two shelters opened earlier this week later combined into one at Twin Cities Church, which had about 25 people Thursday afternoon. The fairgrounds was used as an animal shelter and held some 320 animals, including horses, goats and a 120-pound turtle, said Taylor Wolfe, an administrative analyst with the county.
Wolfe encouraged pet owners to collect their animals and bring an ID when they arrive at the fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley.
Strong winds late Sunday and early Monday helped fan the flames of fires across Northern California. Winds are again in Nevada County's forecast, though they aren't expected to compare with those earlier this week.
A fire weather watch is in effect from tonight to Saturday night. That watch takes into account wind speeds, temperature, humidity and fire fuels, said Brooke Bingaman, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
"We've had all summer to dry out and we haven't had our first significant rainfall yet," she said.
Winds occur in areas where air pressure is different. The closer high and low pressure systems are, the stronger the winds, Bingaman said.
Winds today are forecast to reach around 6 mph and between 5 to 7 mph tonight, the National Weather Service states.
Saturday's winds are expected to reach between 9 to 13 mph.
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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