Washington still endangered | TheUnion.com

Washington still endangered

Dave Moller
Senior Staff Writer

and the Associated Press

Protecting the small town of Washington is the top priority today in the battle against the growing Yuba River Complex of wildland blazes raging in Nevada County.

“That’s where we have the most residences in proximity to the fires,” said Greg Cleveland of the U.S. Forest Service this morning.

No evacuations have been ordered but the complex grew to more than 2,000 acres overnight and inundated the Grass Valley and Nevada City area with heavy smoke.

An air quality alert remains in effect today because of high particulates in the smoke and the possibility of increased ozone in the area due to smog and hot summer conditions.

The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District issued the alert Monday after three major fires began filling the air with smoke.

The Fall Fire near Bowman Lake is now estimated at 1,300 acres, the 25 Fire near Graniteville is thought to be around 200 acres, and the Scotchman Fire near Washington at 500 acres Cleveland said.

“We’re choking, it’s pretty bad,” said Sue DeCourte, owner of the Washigton Hotel and Cafe at 10:30 a.m. “People with breathing problems are trying to find a place to go.”

DeCourte said the Scotchman Fire was on the north side of the South Fork of the Yuba River Monday and stopped about one mile east of town. Another portion of the fire on the south side of the river is still burning along Scotcman Creek, she said.

Smoke from 1,100 acres of blazes on the American River Complex near Auburn was also adding to the hazy conditions in Nevada County.

Although crews made good progress on the 25 Fire overnight, the entire Yuba River Complex is only 5 percent contained, Cleveland said.

“It’s hard to get resources with some many fires in California,” Cleveland said from the blaze command center at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley. “The fires are difficult because they’re spread out.”

With only 259 personnel on the fire, the command center is hoping to get more firefighters and equipment in coming days as other blazes die out, Cleveland said.

“Our main area of concern is Washington,” Cleveland said. The Forest Service will hold a community meeting at 6 p.m. tonight at the Washington Fire District Hall for a fire update.

Return to TheUnion.com during the day for smoke and fire updates.

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