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Structure loss mounts: Mosquito Fire acreage increases

Firefighters work the location Tuesday afternoon where a structure was burned to the ground by the Mosquito Fire along Volcanoville Road in El Dorado County. Forty-six structures were burned and five damaged, most of which occurred in and around Volcanoville.

UPDATE Wednesday 8:35 a.m.:

The Mosquito Fire had burned 58,544 acres as of Wednesday morning, an incident report from Cal Fire stated.

The fire is now 20% contained with 3,052 personnel continuing to fight the blaze.

Sixty-four structures have been destroyed, according to Cal Fire, and another 10 have been damaged. Approximately 5,848 structures remained threatened by the fire, and 11,277 people are currently evacuated, the report stated.

Initially Posted

The Mosquito Fire continued on Tuesday to chew through acres of land outside the communities of Foresthill, Volcanoville, Georgetown and Michigan Bluff, bringing acreage burned up to almost 50,000.

A significant flare up and spot fire just south of the community of Todd Valley sent another large plume of smoke into the sky, prompting more evacuation orders and more very large air tanker drops of fire retardant.

The number of structures destroyed has risen to 46, with the majority of those coming in along the fire’s southwestern edge in the community of Volcanoville.

Smoke smolders up from the roots of a tree after the head of the Mosquito Fire burned through this area earlier along Volcanoville Road. Firefighters are anticipating an uptick in fire activity today.
Photo: Elias Funez

“We had a few days where the smoke kind of stayed settled over the fire area and that helped firefighters keep the fire growth a little bit lower,” Mosquito Fire fire behavior analyst Jonathan Pangburn said. “Unfortunately, we’ve had a turn of events and the southwest flow, the wind coming out of the southwest, is starting to move the smoke out of the area, which allows fresh oxygen to the fire.

That, unfortunately, is going to lead to a slight uptick in the fire behavior.

That uptick in activity demonstrated itself by the afternoon, when a spot from the Mosquito Fire grew quickly to over 300 acres, prompting a firing operation to occur outside of Worton’s Market and the high school outside of Foresthill.

A pair of firefighters extinguish a smoldering spot of the Mosquito Fire Tuesday along Volcanoville Road in El Dorado County.
Photo: Courtesy Austin Metzger for The Union

“We have a lot of available fuels such as shrubs, standing trees, downed logs that are at historically dry levels and that is really driving the fire environment,” Pangburn said.

“Between the wind pushing toward the northeast and this large accumulation of downed material, we certainly have a little bit more opportunity for increased fire behavior (today) as we have an increasing wind with the passage of another weather system,” Pangburn said.

Meanwhile, a vegetation fire off Interstate 80 at Dutch Flat created concern Tuesday afternoon, shutting down the freeway at Colfax and at Highway 20’s intersection with the Interstate. That closure was expected to lift at 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Water tender Brad Fowler waits to be called in from his position along Volcanoville Road Tuesday while helping to fight the Mosquito Fire.
Photo: Courtesy Austin Metzger for The Union

Traffic was diverted onto Highway 20 through Nevada County, with multiple delays reported.

The Dutch Fire was at 25 acres and zero percent contained Tuesday afternoon.

The Mosquito Fire was mapped Tuesday morning at 49,761 acres and was 18% contained, with 2,675 people assigned to the incident.

A Cal Fire truck passes through a heavily burned section of the Mosquito Fire along Volcanoville Road in El Dorado County Tuesday.
Photo: Courtesy Austin Metzger for The Union
A pile of rubble is all that is left of this structure at the end of a driveway in Volcanoville after the Mosquito Fire burned through.
Photo: Elias Funez
The charred remnants of people’s belongings can be seen off Volcanoville Road in El Dorado County.
Photo: Elias Funez

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


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