Placer County’s raging blazes |

Placer County’s raging blazes

Though Yuba River Complex fires have been largely contained, more fires to the south of western Nevada County continue to create smoky, unhealthy air.

The Government Springs Fire in Placer County continued with no measurable containment Tuesday and has approached within six miles of Blue Canyon, said Marian Swinney, fire information officer for the American River Complex command center in Auburn.

In addition, a new fire – called the Old Fire – that erupted in the Foresthill area late Monday was contained Tuesday, and Foresthill Road was reopened at noon, said a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection dispatcher.

The fire had kept some Foresthill residents stuck in town. Calfire and crews from more than 10 other agencies held the fire at 45 aces, and a Calfire engine remained at the scene overnight to keep watch, the dispatcher said.

The Government Springs Fire, about 20 miles east and slightly south of Nevada City, had spread to about 3,768 acres, slowly moving eastward and growing from 2,998 acres during the day Tuesday, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

Part of the American River Complex of fires, it ran uphill in Burnett Canyon on the northwest flank Tuesday, forcing firefighters to pull back to a safety zone created by bulldozers.

“It’s almost impossible to get crews down there,” Swinney said. “They’re hitting it with the C130s. It’s now become the No. 1 priority of the complex, now that the Peavine Fire (about 14 miles northeast of Forest Hill) is 95 percent contained.”

The C130s are former military transport planes retrofitted to drop fire retardant onto the flames, Swinney added. Firefighters have been unable to get into the steep canyons to battle the fire directly, so they are attacking it indirectly by setting backfires, she said.

“They built a line and fired in from the line to the fire. It takes all the fuel from the fire,” Swinney said. Helicopters with bucket drops of water supported the efforts on the ground.

The Westville fire remained at about 50-percent contained and has burned about 722 acres. “It’s not as much of a threat to other communities,” Swinney added.

Last week, firefighters had worried the Westville and the Government Springs would merge, but there is “quite a bit of space between them, and we’re hoping to prevent that from happening,” Swinney said.

Yuba Complex near containment

In the Yuba River Complex, firefighters made progress on the Scotchman Fire near Washington overnight and had the blaze 78-percent contained by 8 a.m. this morning, Tahoe National Forest officials said.

They continued to work on the Fall, Celina and the Scotchman fires.

“The Fall fire was active as the fire burned down to the South Yuba River and Canyon Creek, as anticipated,” forestry officials said this morning. “Existing fire containment lines are holding the fire as firefighters continue to reinforce and construct new control lines.”

Firefighters also continued to patrol or mop up at several other sites in the Yuba River Complex of fires, which had burned a total of 3,579 acres, officials said.

The Fall Fire, near the falls on Scotchman Creek, had burned 1,854 acres and was 67-percent contained. The Celina Fire, in the Wolf Creek drainage in Sierra County, had burned 397 acres and was 92-percent contained.

To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail or call 477-4230.

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