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Smoke is clearing out – blue skies rest of week

Dave Moller
Senior Staff Writer

With Delta breezes pushing much of the wildfire smoke out of Nevada County the past few days, Grass Valley officials are predicting a week of increasing blue skies without air quality advisories and alerts.

“It’s so wonderful to see blue sky again,” said Joe Fish at the Northern Air Quality Management District in Grass Valley. “Quincy is still a little bad, and Truckee is worse than we are right now.”

A Grass Valley Fire Department crew that was working the Butte Lightning Complex of fires near Paradise and Concow is planning to return today, now that the fires that poured so much smoke this way are nearly under control.

“We’re done and we’re coming home,” said Grass Valley firefighter Orion Clemens, who fought the Butte Lightning Complex for the past week.

Joining him on a Grass Valley fire engine were colleagues Robert Bundy, Christopher Armstrong and Ian Schmidt of the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District.

“We worked a 24-hour shift yesterday, and these shifts can be tough on the body,” Clemens said while resting Monday. “We were on the last part of the fire above Concow. We put a couple of spot fires out and patrolled the fireline.

“It’s steep, mountainous country, about 4,500 feet, and it’s like the Tahoe National Forest,” Clemens said. “The smoke lifted today and Sunday, so we could get helicopters in to put out smokes and cool down the hot spots.”

There may be elevated smoke levels again during the week in Nevada County due to drifting smoke. The ozone could reach unhealthy levels again, but these conditions are normal this time of year, Fish said Monday.

An advisory will be issued if the smoke does come back from fires such as the American River Complex that are still burning fiercely in Placer County, Fish said.

The National Weather Service is predicting patchy spots of smoke through the weekend for western Nevada County but not the heavy concentrations that occurred in recent weeks.

High temperatures are expected in the low 90s today and Wednesday, dropping into the upper 80s through Saturday and climbing back into the low 90s Sunday.

Fire behavior on the American River Complex near Blue Canyon on Interstate 80 quieted during the weekend due to high humidities.

By contrast, the Government Springs/Westville Fire is still at 18,665 acres and is only 20 percent contained in steep terrain.

The Canyon Complex in Plumas County is 60 percent contained but continues to be challenging in several areas, including the Feather River Canyon. Highway 70 through the canyon is now open with an escort.

In Butte County, officials are welcoming refugees home in the Paradise and Concow areas, and the Feather River Hospital is slated to open after an extensive fire and ash cleanup.

The Fall Fire is still burning slowly near Bowman Lake in Nevada County and is 95 percent contained, according to the Tahoe National Forest.

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