Plumas blaze growing, new lightning feared |

Plumas blaze growing, new lightning feared

A major blaze on the Plumas National Forest expanded more than 3,000 acres today as almost 1,400 firefighters tried to get it under control before thunderstorms roll in.

Bulldozers and back fires produced progress on the Antelope Complex fire in Plumas County overnight, but the possible thunderstorms could bring more trouble if they contain dry lightning and no rain. The National Weather Service in Sacramento said the storms could linger over the fire area tomorrow with an increased possibility of rain.

The fire 70 miles north of Grass Valley has now grown to 21,500 acres, and is 20 percent contained, according to Lorraine Harwood of the U.S. Forest Service. The fire had calmed on its north face, but was still burning strongly on it southern end at 3 p.m., Harwood said.

Smoky conditions and falling ash from the fire are expected south and east of the blaze over the Plumas County towns of Portola, Greenville and Quincy.

Residents of the small towns of Janesville and Milford on Highway 395 about seven miles from the fire have been alerted an evacuation could occur. They have been told to prepare personal things in advance and to take their livestock to the Lassen County Fairgrounds if it comes.

Campers that were evacuated from Antelope Lake after the fire broke out Thursday were permitted to enter the blaze area with CHP escort today to retrieve things they left behind, according to Lee Anne Schramel Taylor of the Plumas National Forest.

Nine helicopters are now helping douse the blaze, but extremely smoky conditions could hamper their efforts. There has been no containment time forecast for the fire.

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