Victims of the Lobo, McCourtney fires advised to be patient |

Victims of the Lobo, McCourtney fires advised to be patient

Cal Fire's NEU Unit Chief George Morris III begins Thursday evening's standing-room-only community meeting on local wildfires at the Nevada County government center. Cal Fire chiefs explained their initial attack response on both the Lobo Fire and McCourtney Fires and gave updates on the status of each.
Elias Funez/

In less than two hours, the Lobo Fire grew from 10 to 500 acres.

As aggressive winds picked up early Monday morning, firefighters called in for help battling the flames, but resources were spread thin with multiple fires burning throughout the state, including the nearby McCourtney Fire, which prompted evacuation orders just hours before the Lobo Fire began spreading quickly.

Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit Battalion Chief Jim Hudson recounted the initial attack Thursday night at a community meeting for Nevada County residents affected by wildfires.

“You can have all the line and hose in the world around it, but when the wind came up on it like that it just blew it against the terrain, downhill, and we were getting significant spotting,” Hudson said.

Battalion Chief Landon Hack told a similar story about the McCourtney Fire, which spread rapidly Sunday night and into early Monday morning as a result of heavy winds.

“With the conditions — the wind, the smoke, roads being blocked by trees, power lines — it made it difficult to get a true assessment,” he said.

Residents who lost their homes in the fires were advised by county officials to be patient at the Thursday night meeting.

Though evacuation orders have been lifted, residents should not disturb the wreckage on their properties before teams can assess the damages, officials said.

Amy Irani, director of the Nevada County Environmental Health Department, said teams will soon check damaged properties for hazardous waste.

Nevada County Assessor Sue Horne said residents should contact her office to begin assessing properties for damage, which may qualify some for tax reductions.

The McCourtney and Lobo fires are still in progress, firefighters said, and residents should remain cautious until they are fully contained.

“Leave your property as it is and don’t do any disturbance yet, because there are health protections you should put into place … give us a few days, let the folks from the state come down and assess your property before you start doing a lot of work yourself,” Irani said.

The causes of the Lobo and McCourntey Fires are still under investigation, Cal Fire officials said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Pera, email or call 530-477-4231.

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