Winds could blow smoke out of area |

Winds could blow smoke out of area

Southwest winds could blow wildfire smoke out of Nevada County for the Independence Day weekend, and the National Weather Service in Sacramento is predicting clear skies for the federal holiday here.

However, recreationists could easily run into smoky conditions in the northern Sierra this weekend. The last major blaze on the Yuba River Complex, the almost 2,000-acre Fall Fire, is almost contained but continues to burn near Bowman Lake in steep terrain, according to Tahoe National Forest officials.

“I seriously doubt we’ll have full containment tonight, but they’re hitting it hard,” said Greg Cleveland, an information officer at the Nevada County Fairgrounds incident command post, late Thursday.

Smoke also could drift in from the American River Complex in Placer County, where firefighters still are having trouble with the 3,700-acre Government Springs Fire near Blue Canyon.

“It’s 10 percent contained, and I’m sure it’s going to be more contained tonight,” said Marian Swinney at the complex command post in Placer County, late Thursday. “We’re drowning it with four helicopters, and they’re really hitting the Blue Canyon area” to keep the blaze away from Interstate 80.

If you can see or smell smoke, the particulate levels in the air are dangerous, Joe Fish of the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, said last week. The district has not issued an air quality warning for the weekend.

In addition, ozone levels have been in the unhealthy-for-sensitive-individuals range the past two evenings and hit the unhealthy level at about 2 a.m. Wednesday morning. Sensitive individuals include the elderly, children, pregnant women, athletes and anyone with a heart or lung malady.

More smoke could come from the Canyon Complex of fires in Plumas County north of Nevada and Sierra counties, according to a statement issued Thursday from the Plumas National Forest.

Meanwhile, the Belden Fire in the Canyon Complex threatened the resort town of the same name on Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon Wednesday and Thursday.

That caused the Plumas County Sheriff to issue a voluntary evacuation for those in the Belden area living north of the highway and an advisement for those south of the road to get ready to leave.

The fire is in extremely steep canyon terrain on a ridge about 1Ú2 mile above Belden, forest officials said. Firefighters who tried to rappel from helicopters into the blaze Wednesday were turned back by a large number of snags left over from a fire there in 2000 and advancing flames.

Highway 70 is closed from Belden to the top of the Feather River Canyon where it intersects with Highway 89.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported 20,000 firefighters were battling 1,781 fires in the state Thursday on almost 506,000 acres.

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

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