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Chips Fire 8/25/2012 update

Feather Publishing
8/25/2012
9:00 p.m. update
The Chips Fire is now 64,212 acres and 55% contained.
Crews prepared contingency lines for a burnout operation on the eastern flank of the fire from Muggins Creek to Caribou today. If conditions remain favorable and burning is completed, this will create a low intensity burn along contingency lines from the Rattlesnake Peak area to Caribou. Burnout operations continue to be supported by retardant drops on the outside of containment lines.

Fires ignited last night continued to back into the active fire area on the interior of the burn today. Protection around structures in the community of Seneca remains a high priority as crews applied structure fire protection gel to homes and outbuildings, and placed sprinklers on historical buildings to preserve their integrity.

Mop-up operations continue along the perimeters and into the interior of the burn area. Mop-up involves "cold trailing" which is a critical piece of containing the fire's edge. It involves firefighters walking or crawling along fire lines and using the back of their hands to feel the ground for heat. It is a tedious process of feeling stumps, roots and rocks for heat, and then turning over dirt onto hot spots and, where possible, getting water into the area to cool it off. These efforts begin at the fire's edge with firefighters working an arm's length from each other and moving in step along fire lines. It is an organized and disciplined process called "gridding" and it's being done along the fire perimeter in and outside of containment lines every day and night. Because of the fire behavior of this fire, which has spread by spotting, gridding is an important part of controlling and containing fire lines and securing buffers around the fire's edge. The fire area continues to throw spots up to a mile, with many landing outside of containment lines. Firefighters patrolling the area have caught and contained these fires and continue to be aided by the Cobra helicopter flying with an Infra-red device and reporting heat registers in and around the fire area.

Smoke: Smoke will continue to be present in the fire area and surrounding communities. With several large fires in the area contributing to lower air quality, residents can experience eye irritation, respiratory issues and aggravated heart and lung health problems. These can impact children and older adults more severely. Residents are encouraged to get more information on air quality in their area by visiting: http://airnow.gov/index.cfm action=airnow.local state&stateid=5&tab=0

Evacuations and Closures: No changes have occurred to evacuations at this time. The Plumas County Sheriff's Department continues to enforce Mandatory Evacuations for the communities of Canyon Dam and the Big Meadows area. A Voluntary Evacuation is in place for Rush Creek, and an Advisory is in effect for Prattville residents for the potential threat of the fire to the area.

Community Meetings: A community meeting will be held tomorrow, August 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenville Town Hall, 127 Bidwell Street, Greenville, CA 95947.

Additional Fire Information: Call (530) 283-3593 and (530) 283-3288 between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m.


9:00 a.m. update

Burnout operations continue in advance of strong winds.


Firefighters worked through the night achieving a goal to burnout a 4 mile section of the eastern flank above Muggins Creek area. Efforts continue in preparing firing lines for another burn tonight that will connect containment lines with control lines around the eastern fire perimeter. Firefighters constructing and mopping up lines will be reinforced by aerial resources dropping retardant outside containment lines.

The burnout operation utilized winds out of the northeast to push the fire into the interior of the burn area approximately 1000 feet. This burnout will achieve firefighting goals of reducing fuel loads in the area to limit the fire's intensity along the perimeter. Firefighters working around Muggins Creek will prepare firing lines today to connect the northern section of the burnout operation with the southern portion of the fire around Caribou. That burnout operation will be completed tonight if conditions stay favorable.

Winds will gust up to 20 miles per hour in the burn area today as firefighter begin mop-up on containment lines in the east and continue mop-up in the north and west sections of the burn. Weather continues to be a factor in directing fire behavior with high temperatures and wind drying out ground fuels, and large conifers weakened by drought conditions. Winds are predicted to gust up to 30 miles per hour Sunday which prompted the decision to execute a larger burnout operation in the east. With the wind pushing fire to the edge of containment lines, several spots have been identified, including an approximately 100 acre slop-over in the Yellow Creek area. Containment lines have been constructed around all of the spots that were identified and crews continue to patrol containment lines looking or spots and strengthening control lines during mop-up.

The western flank of the fire continues to be staffed by several hot shot crews who stay in the area, camping near the fire line. Crews working from north to south continue work into the Chips Creek drainage, mopping up 300 feet from the fire line where possible. Additional crews will work from south to north, heading to Mount Hope, constructing hand line in steep and rugged terrain. They will be aided by an Infra-red mapping tool that helps to identify hot spots. Helicopters continue to provide air support to areas where it is unsafe for firefighters to engage the fire directly.

Smoke: Smoke will continue to be present in the fire area and surrounding communities. With several large fires in the area contributing to lower air quality, residents can experience eye irritation, respiratory issues and aggravated heart and lung health problems. These can impact children and older adults more severely. Residents are encouraged to get more information on air quality in their area by visiting: http://airnow.gov/index.cfm action=airnow.local state&stateid=5&tab=0 Additionally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers general health information for people in and around wildfire areas. For more information on how to mitigate the effects of smoke and other fire related issues, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Wildfires/

Evacuations and Closures: No changes have occurred to evacuations at this time. The Plumas County Sheriff's Department continues to enforce Mandatory Evacuations for the communities of Canyon Dam and the Big Meadows area. A Voluntary Evacuation is in place for Rush Creek, and an Advisory is in effect for Prattville residents for the potential threat of the fire to the area.

An evacuation Center continues to be available at the Chester Memorial Hall on Gay Street. For more information, please go to: http://www.countyofplumas.com/CivicAlerts.aspx AID=536

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