Some River Fire evacuation orders remain in effect, warnings lifted (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY) |

Some River Fire evacuation orders remain in effect, warnings lifted (VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY)

A pair of Peardale Chicago Park firefighters use hoses Friday morning to wash away fire retardant dropped on Chicago Park School by air tankers fighting the River Fire off Mount Olive Road in Nevada County. By Friday morning the River Fire was 30% contained.
Photo: Elias Funez

“I’m just happy to be able to help the community here, because it’s well-needed, and I just want to be there for the people that are in need,” said Beverly Aiken.

Aiken has organized a clothing and non-perishable food giveaway which will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at the Word A-Live Church, at 10528 Spenceville Road in Penn Valley.

The event has been held in previous years, aimed toward helping those in need in the community, but event organizers said Friday that they are pivoting their focus toward helping those affected by the River Fire.

A barren wasteland is visible along Taylor Crossing Road near the Bear River after Wedneday’s River Fire consumed thousands of acres of vegetation before heading toward the Nevada County community of Chicago Park.
Photo: Elias Funez

Aiken said she has been organizing this type of community assistance for over five years, and is working with both the Word A-Live Church in Penn Valley and Helping Hands Street Ministry Outreach.

A number of fundraisers, many set up by friends and relatives, to benefit those who lost homes and possessions in the River Fire were ongoing as of Friday on the fundraising site GoFundMe.

On these fundraisers, GoFundMe spokesperson Nicole Santos wrote in an email Thursday that the platform was continuing to monitor for fundraisers related to the River Fire. Santos also explained that the site’s team works with fundraiser organizers to confirm their connection to the beneficiaries and ensure that funds are safely transferred to the correct place.

This two-story home chimney is all that is left of a residence off Mount Olive Road in the Nevada County community of Chicago Park, after the head of the River Fire burned through here Wednesday evening.
Photo: Elias Funez


A community meeting to provide information about the River Fire will be held at 10 a.m. today at Bear River High School, according to a media advisory from officials Friday evening.

The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office stated Friday afternoon on its Facebook page that over 500 animals had been either rescued from the River Fire or evacuated by their owners, adding that while they were being kept at the Nevada County Fairgrounds at that time, free space or foster homes were sought.

People able to help were asked to dial 2-1-1 to share their information.

Firefighters use the parking lot of Chicago Park Elementary School to stage while working the River Fire. The school’s gym and restrooms were left open for firefighters to use.
Photo: Elias Funez

Tim Giuliani, executive director of 211 Connecting Point, said the service was still working out the details involved in helping to coordinate animal fostering as of Friday, as it was an effort that had just begun that afternoon.

“At this point, we’re just collecting the information and trying to figure out how the matching of the two will work,” said Giuliani, referring to both people in need of someone to foster animals and those able to do so.

Giuliani said 211 Connecting Point’s strong connection to local emergency operations has been “so helpful in streamlining the information” during the River Fire, and that its staff had received around 500 calls Thursday, around half from Nevada County residents.

On the scope of 211 Connecting Point’s service, Giuliani said, “Our agents are here to try to answer all non-emergency questions, and there’s no limit to what that is — if it’s fire-related and you have a question, give us a call.”

A structure lies in ruins along Blum Road in Chicago Park after the River Fire burned through here Wednesday evening.
Photo: Elias Funez


Officials reported Friday morning that fire crews had made good progress throughout the night, adding that a priority that day was for crews assigned to the River Fire to perform tactical patrol around the perimeter of the fire line to mop-up hot spots.

Jeff Loveless, a battalion chief with Cal Fire, said in a press briefing Friday morning, “We do have … a direct line all the way around this whole entire fire, which means that on the edge perimeter of the entire fire, we have fuel that has been taken away so the growth is minimized.”

An incident report released that morning stated the fire was at 2,600 acres and 30% contained. As of that time, the number of structures confirmed to be destroyed had risen to 88, with 20 structures damaged.

“As of right now, we’re going to hold onto the resources that we have to make sure that the structures are safe for the public,” said Loveless during the briefing. “There is still a lot of heat in there and snags that have fallen down, and we’ll mitigate those before we start thinking about getting the folks back into their homes.”

The concrete and brick foundation is all that is left of this home along Mount Olive Road in Chicago Park.
Photo: Elias Funez


Cal Fire alongside the Sheriff’s Offices of both Nevada and Placer counties announced at 12:30 p.m. Friday that residents of areas which were previously under evacuation warnings — not to be confused with those under mandatory evacuation orders — could safely return home.

In a press release, officials noted that fire personnel were still in the area, and asked that people reduce speeds and drive with caution.

“The cancellation of evacuation orders is being evaluated based on a variety of factors, including potential fire behavior, and the re-establishment of critical infrastructure,” stated the release.

As of around 6:30 p.m. Friday, according to a Cal Fire news release, mandatory evacuation orders had been lifted in some zones.

These were NCO-E178 (all north of Old Coach Way, east of Woodpecker Ravine, south and west of Lower Colfax Road), NCO-E386 (east side of Colfax Highway, south of Bertino Road, the west side of Lower Colfax Road, south of Panorama Drive, north of the Chicago Park Post Office), and NCO-E180 (south of Greenhorn Access Road, west of Rollins Lake, north of the Bear River, east of Highway 174).

In addition, portions of certain zones were cleared: NCO-E102 (north of Retherford Road, east of and including Sierra Knoll Estates, south of Taylor Crossing Road, and west of the Bear River), NCO-E050 (north of Buck Ridge Road, Dog Bar Road and east, south of Rattlesnake and Birch Meadow Acres, west of Clydesdale Road), and NCO-E103 (north and south Mount Olive Road, west of Highway 174, north of Bear River, east of Mount Olive including Rolphholm Road and Clydesdale Road).

Burned trees and smoke fill the Bear River canyon near Taylor Crossing Road after the River Fire burned through here Wednesday.
Photo: Elias Funez

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at



Residents are invited to a community meeting where representatives from various agencies will present updated information regarding the River Fire. Scheduled to appear: Cal Fire, Nevada County Sheriff’s Department, Nevada County Government, and Nevada County Services.

The meeting is at 10 a.m. today at Bear River High School, 11130 Magnolia Road, Grass Valley. It can also be viewed at




Call 2-1-1 or 1-833-DIAL211


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