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Chips Fire: Wednesday Morning Report on Conditions

Fire Facts:

  • Date started: July 29, 2012
  • Number of Personnel: 1,058
  • Location: 2 miles Northwest of Belden, CA
  • Crews: 10
  • Size: 42,215 acres (66 square miles)
  • Engines: 108 Percent
  • Contained: 20%
  • Dozers: 29
  • Estimated Containment Date: August 31, 2012
  • Water Tenders: 30
  • Cause: Under Investigation
  • Helicopters: 5 Type 1, 3 Type 2, and 2 Type 3
  • Cost to Date: $16,100,000
  • Air Tankers: Available
  • Structures Threatened: 900 Residence; 4 Commercial; 36 Outbuildings
  • Injuries to Date: 8

Today’s Update:

Last night, rocks and debris tumbled down onto Caribou Road, rendering the road impassable. This morning the fire is burning east of Caribou Road and below Butt Valley Reservoir Dam. Heavy smoke in the canyon overnight obscured the fire and slowed its spread. The fire has not climbed out of the canyon below Butt Valley Reservoir Dam. Crews are working to establish containment lines off the south end of Butt Valley Reservoir to stop the fire’s northeast movement.

On the fire’s north flank, west of Butt Valley Reservoir, crews were successful in burning operations overnight, checking the fire’s spread to the north. Work in this area will continue today to secure the line. Control lines along Humbug Road west of Yellow Creek continued to hold.

On the top of Red Hill, hand crews will continue to work today to extinguish fire burning among the rocks near the telecommunications towers. CalTrans road crews will be working to clear the debris from Caribou Road as early as possible so that crews can continue holding the fire west of the road.

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. Residents in these areas will continue to see CalFire and Office of Emergency Services engines from various city fire departments moving through neighborhoods as they plan structure protection tactics. Bulldozers and other heavy equipment will continue building and improving contingency lines running southeast from Seneca Road.

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.

Fire Behavior and Smoke:

Typical overnight cooling brought smoke down into the canyons overnight and this morning. Today’s weather forecast includes a chance for additional thunderstorm activity with the potential for gusty winds. Unstable weather conditions could contribute to potential long-range spotting and fire growth.

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 http://www.dot.ca.gov/.

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 http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Wildfires/. Local air quality conditions and forecasts are available at http://airnow.gov/index.cfm action=airnow.main.

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 http://www.inciweb.org/incident/article/3052/15480/.

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 – At 11:30 AM yesterday, PG&E closed the Rocky Point Campground and offered campers the option to relocate to Last Chance Campground. Rush Creek and the community 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.

To register a cell phone with the Plumas County Emergency Notification System visit http://countyofplumas.com/index.aspx nid=2163.

Sheriff’s Voluntary Evacuations are now in place for Canyondam, Big Meadows. 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

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Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff.com Publisher/Editor
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