Wildland blazes: ‘It’s not over at all’ | TheUnion.com

Wildland blazes: ‘It’s not over at all’

The fire season is far from over, as seen in a wildland blaze that burned three homes in northern Placer County and another that threatened homes in the middle of Grass Valley this week.

“It’s not over at all,” said Ann Westling of the Tahoe National Forest on Tuesday. “The weather this time of year is a concern to any firefighter because of the high temperatures, decreased humidity and the winds. That’s the recipe for some very problematic fires” Westling said.

One of them was the Gladding Fire, which grew to 900-plus acres Tuesday a few miles northeast of Lincoln but was expected to be fully contained late last night, according to JoAnn Cartoscelli of Calfire in Auburn.

The blaze had threatened up to 400 homes Monday after breaking out at the corner of Gladding Road and Merritt Lane, Cartoscelli said. No one was injured but several firefighters were stung by a large swarm of bees.

“We have a damage assessment team going to the scene,” she said. A number of outbuildings were lost to the wind-whipped blaze as well.

Meanwhile, the red flag fire conditions that caused the Gladding Fire and forced evacuations subsided Tuesday with the winds. Residents have returned to their homes in the rural area northeast of Lincoln, Cartoscelli said.

Fire danger will still exist through the week as low humidity, occasional gusting winds and dry conditions will persist with temperatures rising back into the high 80s to low 90s through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

“September typically is our worst month” for wildfire, said Tim Fike, chief of the Nevada County Consolidated Fire District. “This is usually when we see north wind events and low humidity. It’s compounded by the fact we haven’t seen any rain for a month.”

The fire that broke out along East Main Street in midtown Grass Valley near Berryhill Drive Sunday was fueled by winds, Fike said.

It caused spot fires to start up to one-quarter mile away, threatening homes near Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and its new imaging center, he said.

“It spotted in the field north of Fischer’s (Towing),” according to Fike. “There were six spot fires up there and it seriously threatened a couple of houses.”

Threats still exist in the Tahoe National Forest as well, said Westling.

“We continually find abandoned campfires throughout the forest,” a common cause of wildfire, she said. “It’s as if people don’t know how to extinguish a campfire.”

A fire is not out if you see gray coals, Westling cautioned. Campers should stir up a fire and douse it heavily with water several times.

“Repeat that until you can put your hand out to the coals and not feel any heat,” Westling said.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 4774237.

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