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‘Still at peak fire staffing’: Firefighters await a wetting rain

Grass Valley Air Attack Base’s air tanker 88 drops a red curtain of fire retardant onto the Star Fire, which burned 1.2 acres near the western edge of Grass Valley, off Shooting Star Lane, Tuesday afternoon. Firefighters are keeping an eye on the weather during the mid-October throes of the 2021 fire season.

Gusty winds and low humidity levels across Northern California have kept firefighters busy in Nevada County and beyond, suppressing vegetation fires on Beale Air Force Base and in rural Grass Valley.


The Star Fire, which started about 4 p.m. Tuesday off Shooting Star Lane, near South Ponderosa Way, sent smoke plumes into the air and alarm among residents of Grass Valley before firefighters got the blaze under control.

Bulldozers, water tenders, air tankers, and helicopters, among other firefighting, personnel helped keep the fire to 1.2 acres burned.

The cause of the Star Fire has yet to be released.


Hours earlier firefighters responded to reports of a vegetation fire burning in light fuel and oak woodland on Beale Air Force Base property.

By 2:30 p.m. Tuesday air attack and air tankers from the Grass Valley Interagency Air Attack Base were en route to Beale, making retardant drops to help protect the nearby base housing, which evacuated out of caution.

The fire was kept to 40 to 50 acres with forward progress of the fire stopped within an hour.


The Caldor Fire – which started Aug. 18, burned hundreds of homes along the Highway 50 corridor and threatened South Lake Tahoe – is now 98% contained, according to El Dorado National Forest authorities.

Firefighters were responding to smoke reports in the Strawberry Creek area and continued with suppression repair, hazard tree removal, and mop up while keeping an eye on potential fire weather, including high winds and low humidity levels.

Winds reaching 99 miles per hour were recorded just south of Kirkwood Ski Resort Tuesday night, a news release states.

Over 1,000 firefighting personnel continue to watch over and conduct mop up along 200 miles of containment lines.


Firefighters will be keeping a close watch on the community during today’s potentially critical fire weather conditions – gusty winds and low humidity levels – which will be more persistent closer to the Sacramento Valley.

A wetting rain is needed to reduce the risk of wildfires.

“Obviously it’s cooler, but any kind of humidity is being dried out,” Cal Fire Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit Public Information Officer Mary Eldridge said.

“Until we get a wetting rain, we’re still at peak fire staffing.”

A Red Flag Warning is being issued for the western Sacramento Valley from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. today, with northerly wind gusts of up to 20 to 30 mph expected.

Light rain showers are being forecast Monday for the northern Sacramento Valley and adjacent foothills and mountains, with some snow forecast for elevations between 6,000 to 7,000 feet.

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez, email efunez@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230


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