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Winds bring ripe fire conditions

With the Nevada County fire plan still unfinished after almost five years, high winds will sweep into the foothills today, causing the area’s second fire watch in a week.

The area also was under a fire watch last week because of higher than normal temperatures.

The safety concerns were highlighted late Monday by a quarter-acre wildland fire that broke out and was later contained along Highway 20 near Penn Valley.



The fire warnings come as county planners are in the middle of a 90-day comment period on the latest draft of the fire plan, according to Fire Protection Planner Jana Luis.

“We’re getting close,” Luis said Monday. “The intent is to get a final verdict” from the Board of Supervisors on Aug. 12.




“But with the fire plan, you never know,” Luis said, referring to the many setbacks and almost five years the county has spent devising the plan.

The plan largely was bogged down in recent years when county residents protested its lack of an evacuation plan, as well as calls for extensive brush clearing on plots of 10 acres or less.

On April 8, the supervisors accepted what is hoped to be the final structure of the plan, which added evacuation policy and pared the brush-clearing down to the state law level of 100 feet around rural homes. The plan will actually be folded into the safety element of the general plan upon final adoption, according to acting County Fire Marshall Kathleen Edwards.

“It’s up to the Board of Supervisors from here,” said Joanne Drummond, the executive director of the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, on Monday. She said she is eager to see “if it dissolves or will be acted upon at some time. Let’s hope we don’t get a spark.”

So while the county awaits a fire plan, the fire season is getting underway. There is a chance for a few showers and thunderstorms today and tonight, according to the National Weather Service in Sacramento

The new weather pattern is expected to cool things off today, with temperatures in the mid-70s. However, wind gusts up to 20 mph will put fire officials on the lookout.

The official fire watch is in effect for Wednesday morning through Thursday afternoon with winds gusting up to 24 mph. Expected low humidity levels also caused the fire watch alert.

Temperatures will dip into the mid-60s Wednesday, then climb back into the mid-70s Thursday, staying there through the weekend.

People wishing to burn brush piles in the next few days need to be cautious and have a burning permit from any area fire station. They should also call the burn day information line at 274-7928 to see if burning is permissible that day.

To contact Senior Staff Writer Dave Moller, e-mail dmoller@theunion.com or call 477-4237.


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