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Chips Fire: Tuesday Night Report on Conditions

Fire Facts:

  • Date started: July 29, 2012
  • Number of Personnel: 1,054
  • Location: 2 miles Northwest of Belden, CA
  • Crews: 10
  • Size: 37,481 acres (57 square miles)
  • Engines: 107
  • Percent Contained: 20%
  • Dozers: 29
  • Estimated Containment Date: August 31, 2012
  • Water Tenders: 30
  • Cause: Under Investigation
  • Helicopters: Not available at night
  • Cost to Date: $16,100,000
  • Air Tankers: Not available at night
  • Structures Threatened: 900 Residence; 4 Commercial;
  • 36 Outbuildings
  • Injuries to Date: 8

Tuesday Evening  Update:

A thunder storm over the fire caused a flare-up on Red Hill late this afternoon. Crews are working to suppress this new fire activity. The storm also caused erratic winds along the Caribou Road in the North Fork of the Feather River. These winds produced a significant flare-up which pushed spot fires just south of Butt Valley Reservoir. Crews were forced to pull off the fireline due to rolling rocks and increased fire activity.

Crews made continued progress strengthening and extending the north containment line towards Butt Valley Reservoir. Crews plan to complete this section of the line tonight, and burn out from the line back towards the main fire. The north containment line along Humbug Road has held for more than 48 hours. Little to no movement occurred along Highway 70 and the west flank.

Contingency lines along Highway 89 and north of Humbug Road are being improved with dozers and other heavy equipment. CalFire and Office of Emergency Services engines continue to arrive and will comprise a robust structural protection group for the communities threatened by the Chips Fire.

The 940 structures that are considered threatened are in the following communities: Lake Almanor West, Almanor, Prattville, the Big Meadows subdivision, Canyondam, Belden, Rush Creek, and Seneca, and structures along Caribou Road. Please note, the increase in structures threatened is the result of better structure mapping not additional communities being threatened.

PG&E representatives are working closely with the fire management team, and are prepared to de-energize transmission lines as needed for firefighting efforts, including the use of aircraft.

Updated Chips fire map for the evening of August 14th

Fire Behavior and Smoke:

The fire was less active last night. However, fire conditions are still critical and capable of producing extreme fire behavior where winds align with canyons. The fire will continue to move northeast towards Butt Valley Reservoir where it has not yet reached the shoreline. At several locations the fire backed into the North Fork of the Feather River above Caribou Road. Yesterday smoke hung over the fire area grounding air resources most of the day and suppressing fire activity. Today smoke is expected to lift early, which may produce increased fire activity this afternoon.

Public Safety:

Motorists are encouraged to use caution on roads within the vicinity of the fire, particularly on Highway 70 and Highway 89 due to increased fire traffic. Travelers should check highway conditions regularly at 800-427-ROAD or

Smoke will continue to pose health concerns for the public. Residents are encouraged to visit the “Protect Yourself from Smoke” website for smoke protection information at Local air quality conditions and forecasts are available at

For tips on how to prepare for a potential evacuation and what to do if you are evacuated, residents in and near evacuation areas are encouraged to visit the “Ready, Set, Go” website at

To register a cell phone with the Plumas County Emergency Notification System visit

Power Outages:

To report and get updates on power outages please call PG&E’s 24-hour emergency and customer service line: 1-800-743-5002.

Evacuations and Closures:

Mandatory Evacuations – Rush Creek and the communities of Seneca remain under a mandatory evacuation. The Caribou Road from the junction of Highway 70 to Butt Lake Dam as well the Butt Lake Dam, Ohio Valley Road, Butt Lake Road, Humbug/Humboldt and all additional secondary roads West of Highway 89 between Canyondam and the Humbug/Humboldt Road are under a “Hard Closure”. Additional evacuations may be necessary depending on fire activity.

Sheriff’s Voluntary Evacuations are now in place for Canyondam, Big Meadows and Rocky Point Campground. The Sheriff’s Advisement for other communities along Highway 89 including Prattville, Almanor, and West Almanor and East Shore Residence (Hwy 147) remains in effect. Residents between Tobin and Twain on Highway 70 are under a Sheriff’s Advisement to develop a family evacuation plan. This area includes Belden, Maggie’s Trailer Park, and Little Haven. Planning to provide shelter arrangements for local residents will be based on the locations and extent of any new mandatory evacuations issued by the Sheriff’s Office.

Butt Valley Reservoir recreation facilities administered by PG&E (Ponderosa Flat Campground, Cool Springs Campground, Ray Adams Day Use Area and Boat Launch, as well as Yellow Creek Campground) are closed due to the fire. Gansner Bar, North Fork, and Queen Lily USFS campgrounds remain closed. The Little Grizzly dispersed camping area and High Lakes OHV area, are also closed.

Communities west of the fire area including Paradise, Jarbo Gap, and Concow are not threatened at this time.

In the interest of firefighter and public safety, the Plumas and Lassen National Forests have expanded the original closure areas due to the fire’s growth. The closures will remain in place until the area is safe for the public to enter. Please see the Forest Orders and closure maps on InciWeb (address above). Pacific Crest Trail hikers may bypass the affected area by hiking Highway 70/89 or catching a bus with Plumas Transit to Chester, CA (weekdays only).

Chips Fire, Plumas County

View Larger Map 

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso Publisher/Editor
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