Update: No containment on Bullards Fire
3:54 p.m. — Tankers are no longer flying from the Nevada County Airport to assist with the Bullards Fire as of this afternoon.
The tankers, loaded with fire retardant, flew out of the airport for about two hours Saturday morning, according to volunteers at the Nevada County Airport. Helicopters continue to fly from the Brownsville Airport to make water drops.
Because the fire’s movement is slowing, and the flames are “laying down” more, it is easier to make water drops, volunteers said.
Smoke was not visible Saturday afternoon from the Nevada County Airport, as it was Friday evening, according to Union photographer John Hart.
Firefighters have been unable to contain the Bullards Fire northwest of Grass Valley, which had grown to 850 acres by early Saturday, forestry officials said.
Flames are on both sides of the North Yuba River, which flows from the dam at the southern end of Bullards Bar, a popular fishing and boating lake.
“We’re still getting some spot fires,” said national forest spokeswoman Kathy VanZuuk. “There have been erratic winds and the fire is in very steep, rugged terrain.”
As of 12:15, firefighters have not been able to contain the blaze, officials said.
One person has been injured, but no further information was available.
A Forest Service fire management team will be arriving at the Nevada County Fairgrounds, just west of Grass Valley, to assume command of the operation this evening.
Agencies responding include the North San Juan Volunteer Fire Department, Calfire, the United States Forest Service, Yuba County Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., private contractors and many other local fire agencies, officials said..
Personnel includes 20 hand crews, 20 engines, 10 dozers and four helicopters; five air tankers have been ordered.
“The big thing now is this weather front that’s moving in,” said Tahoe National Forest spokeswoman Ann Westling. “We are expecting cooler temperatures, higher humidity and more winds, with gusts up to 18 mph.”
Winds from the southwest could bring some rain, “but winds also fan flames, so that could increase fire activity,” Westling said.
Evacuations are in effect for the Bullards Bar Campgrounds, Moonshine Road, Oregon Hill Road to Summit Road, Kelly Road, County Road 169, and Souix Trail areas. Marysville Road is closed beginning at Mirriam Road to Highway 49. Moonshine Road is closed.
The fire started Friday afternoon in the canyon below the dam. The cause of the fire remains unknown.
Clouds from the weather system moving across the Sierra Nevada mixed with smoke, leaving a gray pall over western Nevada County Saturday morning.
A 30 percent chance of scattered showers for the area is forecast for today, with a 20 percent chance of rain by tonight and Sunday, the National Weather Service reported. Temperatures are predicted to be in the low 60s this weekend, rising to the low 70s by Monday and the low 80s by Tuesday.
Humidity early Saturday for the region is reported at around 60 percent; winds are reported at about 15 mph with gusts up to about 21 mph, the weather service reported.
Check back for further updates.
The blaze started Friday afternoon in the canyon below the dam and ballooned from about 15 acres at 5:30 p.m. Friday to 600 acres by 9 p.m.
As the blaze grew, vacationers were evacuated from campgrounds around the popular fishing and boating lake northwest of Grass Valley.
Moonshine Road, Marysville Road, Kelly Road and Oregon Hill Road were closed to traffic as of 9 p.m. Friday, and some houses along Moonshine Road were evacuated, VanZuuk said.
Strike teams struggled with very steep terrain and dry vegetation on private and national forest land as the blaze grew from about 15 acres a half-mile south of the dam, at the southern end of the reservoir, at 5:30 p.m. to 600 acres by 9 p.m., said VanZuuk, based at the North Yuba District Ranger Station in Camptonville.
The Bullards Fire was burning on both sides of the Middle Yuba River Friday, fed by the dam’s spillway, VanZuuk said.
“It’s still actively spreading,” VanZuuk added.
The blaze continued to march in a northwesterly direction toward the Plumas National Forest. It was burning on land in both the Plumas and Tahoe national forests, she added.
Multiple aircraft roared out of the airport at the Grass Valley Interagency Command Center just east of town.
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