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Wildfire Update: Chips Fire Monday A.M. Report

Chips Fire Facts:

  • Date started: July 29, 2012
  • Number of Personnel: 1,066
  • Location: 2 miles Northwest of Belden, CA
  • Crews: 10
  • Size: 35,233 acres
  • Engines: 92
  • Percent Contained: 12%
  • Dozers: 28
  • Estimated Containment Date: August 31, 2012
  • Water Tenders: 30
  • Cause: Under Investigation
  • Helicopters: 6 Type 1, 3 Type 2, and 2 Type 3
  • Cost to Date: $13,800,000
  • Air Tankers: Available
  • Structures Threatened: 600 Residence; 4 Commercial;
  • 36 Outbuildings
  • Injuries to Date: 7

Today’s Chips Fire Update 8/13:

A community meeting will be held in Chester at the Almanor Recreation Center (450 Meadowbrook Loop) at 6pm. Fire management officials will provide an update on the fire and answer questions.

Issued this morning is a Sheriff’s advisement for the communities along the Highway 89 corridor from Canyondam north to Lake Almanor West. Residents are encouraged to make an evacuation plan, to include the gathering of photos, important documents and priceless keepsakes. Part of the plan is to discuss with your family a location you will travel to, should the need arise to evacuate, and to ensure you have also made arrangements for the care and safekeeping of your pets.

Crews worked through the night to strengthen the containment line using both direct tactics near the edge of the fire, and indirect tactics in areas with steep terrain. The fire remained active and spread downslope to the west into the Yellow Creek drainage. It also moved to the western shore of Butt Valley Reservoir.

Crews conducted a burnout near Humbug Road to remove unburned fuels ahead of the active fire front, which should help prevent the fire from spreading further north. Crews also made progress securing containment lines on Red Hill. Fire activity was minimal along the western and southern flanks.

New contingency lines are being established along Highway 89 and north of Humbug Road. Crews may conduct additional burnouts along the northern flank between the active fire front and Humbug Road if conditions are favorable. Of the 90 engines assigned to this fire, a strike team of engines has arrived and another strike team is on the way to the fire. These strike teams will be strategically positioned in the threatened communities, specifically for structure protection.

The 640 structures that are considered threatened include the following communities: Lake Almanor West, Almanor, Pratville, the Big Meadows subdivision, Canyondam, Belden, Rush Creek, and Seneca, and structures along Caribou Road.

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

Fire Behavior and Smoke:

The fire is expected to back downslope to the western edge of Butt Valley Reservoir today. Spotting ahead of the fire may occur this afternoon. Smoke will remain in low lying areas this morning due to down canyon winds. As temperatures increase, the smoke is expected to rise and produce a column. Southwest winds are expected to contribute to active fire spread this afternoon and push the smoke northeast of the fire area.

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 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 – 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 is also under mandatory evacuation. Additional evacuations may be necessary depending on fire activity.

Sheriff’s voluntary evacuations are in place for an area south of Highway 89 that includes the Butt Lake Area, Ohio Valley, the Humbug and Humboldt area, and Yellow Creek. Residents between Tobin and Twain on Highway 70 are under a Sheriff’s advisement to begin developing evacuation plans. This area includes Belden, Maggie’s Trailer Park, and Little Haven. Should members of the public require shelter assistance, please call the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office at 530-283-6300. They will coordinate shelter arrangements through the Plumas County Office of Emergency Services.

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

 

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff.com Publisher/Editor
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