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August 2 and 3 Rich Fire Update

August 3, 7:00 p.m.
A new fire in Butte County

According to the Chico Enterprise Record:
A new fire started in Butte County at 2:40 p.m. today, between the middle and southern forks of Lake Oroville.

The Craig Fire has burned approximately 230 acres and is 30 percent contained, according to Cal Fire. One structure has been destroyed.

Firefighters are making good progress and plan to hold the fire at the middle fork of the lake. There are 20 fire engines staged at Berry Creek, but this may decrease or be canceled due to a lowered threat to the community.

There are precautionary evacuations for Cochise Road, Crystal Ranch Road, Blackhawk Road and Tonyon Hill Road.

There is currently no estimated containment date nor a determined cause for the fire.August 3, 9:00 a.m.

(I must give credit where it is due....I heard about this fire from my mom! Thanks mom. Always looking after me.)



Rich Fire Update:

Contact: Public Information Office (530)-283-7882 or 7883
Sunday, August 3, 2008 – 9 am PDT Update

A COMMUNITY MEETING IS SCHEDULED FOR TOMORROW EVENING IN QUINCY AT THE VETERANS’ HALL ON LAWRENCE STREET AT 6 PM.


Fire Rich
Acres 5,199
% Contained15%
Cost$ 2,591,500
Total Personnel 916

Belden Fire 474 Acres
% Contained 70%

*Expected containment date is August 15, 2008.

News & Events:

• 50 people attended the community meeting held in Chester last night, expressing their appreciation for the firefighters’ efforts.
• Under an existing mutual aid agreement between the United States, New Zealand and Australia, 44 fire managers and line supervisors who work for government agencies and private forestry companies have been dispatched to California for a 35-day work assignment to assist with the fires. Ten of the 44 have arrived on the Rich Fire to assist us, after having spent 14 days on the Butte Fire near Chico. Our warmest welcome to the Kiwis & Aussies
• Five members of the National Capital Region Incident Management Team have arrived to “shadow”
members of the Pacific Northwest Team 2. The team is comprised of members from all disciplines from
the Washington, D.C. region. Our warmest welcome to the Virginians •
• Firefighters will continue to conduct burnout operations on the south side of Hwy 70, and on the
northwest corner of the fire. Expect to see additional smoke today due to the burnout operations.
• Highway 70 been has re-opened to public access; Cal Trans is providing 1-way traffic control with pilot car escort from 2 miles east of the town of Rich Bar to 6.5 miles west of the Jct. of SR 89 (Butte Co).
Evacuation orders issued by the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office remain in effect.
RICH FIRE STATUS:

Yesterday: Firefighters are making excellent progress battling the Rich Fire. Crews were highly successful with burnout operations at the head of the fire and also on the southern perimeter in the Virgilia area. Crews and equipment constructed direct and indirect handline on the northwest and eastern perimeters, nearly completing the dozer line at the head of the fire. Mop-up operations are now underway in several areas of the fire. Saturday afternoon, some spotting occurred on the northwest perimeter but crews quickly contained the new spot fires. Helicopter bucket support has been crucial in slowing the spread of the fire and allowing crews and dozers to complete suppression control lines.

Saturday night’s operations: On the south side of Hwy 70, crews contained a couple of spot fires and burned the road along 12-mile. North of Hwy 70 on the northeast corner of the fire, crews contained spot fires and finished prepping dozer lines for burnout operations. On the east flank, dozers continued with line construction efforts. On the west flank, crews made good progress with burnout operations on 22 Road from Deadwood Saddle to 67 Road.

Today’s operations south of Hwy 70 (south of the East Fork of the Feather River): Crews and equipment will continue to hold and improve the existing fire line and continue with mop up efforts. Burnout operations will take
place on the southeast and southwest corners of the fire.


Today’s operations north of Hwy 70 (north of the East Fork of the Feather River): Crews and equipment will continue to work the unburned area above Highway 70 on the southeastern perimeter and continue with mop up and the completion of control lines and burnout as necessary on the west and north flanks of the fire. On the northeast
corner of the fire, dozers will continue with line completion and improvement. On the west flank, dozers and crews will establish lines down No Name Ridge. The structure protection group will continue with perimeter protection along Hwy 70 and the Rich Gulch area and make further evaluations on needed structure protection along Hwy 70 to the east.

BELDEN FIRE STATUS: The Belden Fire, at 474 acres, is located ¾ mile west of Belden is 70% contained; this fire will continue to be monitored by air while firefighters focus their efforts on the Rich Fire.

Mandatory & Voluntary Evacuations: Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for the Feather River Canyon area of Rush Creek Road. Voluntary evacuations are in effect for Caribou, Seneca and the South portion of Butt Lake.

Evacuation Shelter: Veterans’ Hall on Lawrence Street in Quincy. For 24-hour evacuation status information, contact
530-283-6102 or visit the Plumas County website at www.countyofplumas.com for additional information.

Closures and Road Status: A soft closure remains in effect between the Greenville “Y” at Hwy 89 & 70 and Virgilia and between Grandview and Caribou Road. A hard closure remains in effect between Caribou and Virgilia. Three emergency closure areas on the Plumas National Forest were signed into effect on July 31 by Forest Supervisor Alice Carlton, also for public safety purposes. The Pacific Crest Trail and Bucks Lake Trail are impacted by this closure order. Go to
www.fs.fed.us/r5/plumas for more information on forest closure Order No. 08-08.

FIRE FACTS: Started: July 29, 2008; Cause: Under investigation; Location: 20 miles West of Quincy, CA; Resources:
22 hand crews, 8 helicopters (air support is being shared with the Canyon Complex), 51 engines, 8 dozers, 17 water
tenders, 916 total personnel.

SAFETY CONCERNS: Multiple air resources, numerous historic mining sites, firefighter fatigue and steep, rocky terrain with numerous standing dead trees and rolling material.

RESOURCE CONCERNS: Protection of wilderness values, water quality in wild and scenic rivers, sensitive species habitat and scenic/roadless areas by utilizing minimum disturbance practices.

VALUES AT RISK: CA State Highway 70, Feather National Scenic Byway, railroad corridor, communications site on Red Hill, power lines servicing the community of Quincy, structures to the NW and Bucks Lake Wilderness, sensitive species, high value timber and archaeological sites.

WEATHER: Conditions similar to yesterday. Mostly sunny with a persistent weather pattern prevailing across the fire through the day operational period. Afternoon relative humidity will fall into the teens and 20s with only moderate overnight recovery. Ridgetop winds SE 5 mph becoming SW 5-10 mph late morning and increasing to SW 10-15 mph in the afternoon. Late afternoon gusts 20-30 mph. Slope/down canyon winds 5-10 mph with gusts to 15 mph in the early morning then diminishing. Wind becoming upslope and up canyon 6-12 mph late morning, then increasing to 12-22 mph in the afternoon. Gusts 22-28 mph in the afternoon in the river canyon. Predictions are for drying on Sunday with a bit less wind. Very dry air will move in the Desert Southwest on Sunday night through Tuesday. Becoming partly cloudy
late Tuesday through Wednesday with a chance of thunderstorms.

FIRE BEHAVIOR: A relatively quiet day is expected on the fire line today, assisting firefighters in making progress with the remaining line construction efforts and burnout operations. Firefighters will be monitoring for spots outside the fire line near burnout operations for potential spot fires.

COOPERATING AGENCIES & PARTNERS: Plumas County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol and Cal Trans Plumas and
other resources.

August 3, 8:00
Burnout a success, follow up to an earlier comment:

Just an update on the 12 Mile Bar backfire project. All went well! Things are black around my home but only ground fuel that would be detrimental to the safety of the property.

There was plenty of crew on task and it was pretty scary to see lots of smoke coming my way, but knew that the chance of fire directly at 12 Mile had been reduced due to the expertise of the crew and the people in command. Signing off ~ Ms. Jaye Bruce ~

August 3, 7:45 a.m.
Airtanker Question:


"I live in Chester and I have not seen one borate bomber flying out of our airport since the Rich fire started. I mentioned this to someone who replied they are all down on the Yosemite fire...?? Unlike the earlier fires when it was too smokey to fly safely, I have seen plenty of time in the last few days when it was absolutely clear enough to fly. So Plumas County has to take a back seat to "more important fires"? We are not entitled to a portion of the air support we need. I think are Supervisors should be asking those questions, don't you. Jeff Hulett, Chester, Ca."

My response:
Good question. I can't say for sure why airtankers aren't being used but I can offer some obersvations that may help explain it. I don't think it is a matter of priorities. The Telegraph fire near Yosemite is 90% contained and it appears they have begun to demobilize. 768 personnel were released yesterday. (If you wonder where I get this information, go to NIFC.gov and check out the National Situation Report.)

The firelines being built on the Rich Fire are down in some extremely steep and narrow canyons. Airtankers can't safely fly low enough to make effective retardant drops in this terrain. Helicopters are more effective in this situation. There are eight helicopters assigned to the fire. My guess is that fire managers could get airtankers if they needed them, but instead have chosen to use the better suited helicopters.


August 3, 7:30 a.m.
Morning update

It appears that firefighters made good progress yesterday. The Rich Fire grew by only 475 acres and now stands at 5,673 acres. This fire has become the number one priority fire in the north state. There are now 890 personnel assigned including 22 hand crews, 51 engines, and 8 helicopters. The fire is 15% contained as of early this morning.

August 2, 3:00p.m.
A response from the fire team:


Thanks for your response to Jaye earlier today. You are right on in your observations. We have to be extremely careful with burnouts, as we want to put just enough heat on the ground to remove the fuels that will feed a wildfire while trying to keep the fire cool enough to avoid spots and other problems. When you're working in a complex environment that also includes steep terrain, canyon winds, extremely dry vegetation, hot weather, and homes, it becomes much more difficult. Sometimes, particularly when the fire is backing down a slope, we have to wait until the fire reaches a certain point before we can start our burning.

As to the fire itself, this is not the largest fire we have worked on, but it is an extremely challenging fire that demands a high level of technical expertise. There are a bunch of pieces along the perimeter that require different tactics and resource combinations. This is definitely not a "one-size-fits-all" kind of fire.

We're making good progress today, though we are being tested a bit by winds. If we can hold what we have throughout the afternoon, we'll be in good shape for our night shift to build on today's actions.

And thanks to Jaye for being so patient with us. We absolutely understand the stress and uncertainty these kinds of situations place on people and we're working hard to get this fire tamped down so everyone in the area can get on with their lives.

Our priority continues to be firefighter and public safety. To that end, we ask that everyone be aware that there are more big rigs in town than usual and please drive safely and defensively. Don't assume an engine or a water tender can stop as quickly as the car you drive. Pay attention to the pilot cars on Highway 70. We brief our firefighters every day on safety, and if everyone in the area is also thinking about safety, we'll all be better off.

Finally, it's great for us to come in to a community so supportive of our efforts.

Thank you all,

Jim Whittington
Information Officer

August 2, 12:00 p.m.
Excellent observations from the front lines:


This is a great e-mail I received from a resident of the fire area. I will comment on the back end.

"My name is Jaye Bruce, property owner and only full time residence at 12 MILE BAR. I have had the frustration of "Why don't they just put out the fire!" And have learned so much about the way fire crews "Manage " fire these days and don't put it out the way, I, in my lack of knowledge, think they should. They are doing a back burn today and have been putting extensive time, care and patience with ME! Last night I was shown by Lex, (Yeah) how the crew has cut brush and lines to prepare for this undertaking, not to mention all the work above to encourage the burn coming down the hill.

I wish them the best with this huge project today and have to ask for their understanding on my frustration and fear of losing what is so dear to my heart, being my property and home."

My thoughts:
It is so easy to relate to what Jaye is going through. Imagine the stress and frustration of not knowing the fate of your home. He wants them to "just put the fire out". Who wouldn't feel that way?

But he is seeing something else. He is understanding that it just isn't that simple. Fighting fire, especially with tough terrain and such dry fuels is really difficult business. It sounds like he is dealing with some real professionals who know that a backfire is the most successful tactic under these conditions and not only are they taking great care to prep the backfire, but they are also taking the time to help the property owner understand what is going on.

These are real professionals doing their best to fight a very difficult fire. We owe them our respect and gratitude.

August 2, 11:00 a.m.
Forest Service Update


Contact: Public Information Office (530)-283-7882 or 7883
Saturday, August 2, 2008 –9 am PDT Update

A COMMUNITY MEETING IS SCHEDULED FOR TONIGHT, SATURDAY, AT 7PM IN
CHESTER AT MEMORIAL HALL, CORNER OF STONE AND GAY.


Fire Acres % Contained Cost Total Personnel
Rich & Belden 5,198 10% 1,595,500 646

News & Events:

• Highway 70 been has re-opened to public access; Cal Trans is providing 1-way traffic control with pilot car escort from 2 miles east of the town of Rich Bar to 6.5 miles west of the Jct. Of SR 89 (Butte Co).

Evacuation orders issued by the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office remain in effect.
• Power transmission lines that feed the Quincy area were re-energized yesterday as fire intensity
decreased in the vicinity of the lines.
• Firefighters will be conducting burnout operations on the north and south sides of Hwy 70 today and on the north side of Hwy 70 this evening. Expect to see additional smoke due to the burnout operations.

RICH FIRE STATUS: The Rich Fire was fairly active yesterday, spreading to the northwest and challenging existing fire lines. Fire managers reported that shaded fire breaks created by the Plumas National Forest helped to slow the fire’s
advance. The fire was particularly active in Deadwood Canyon.

Last night’s operations: Firefighters took care of 2-acre “slopover” that breached the line on the portion of the Rich Fire that is south of Highway 70. On the portion of the Rich Fire that lies on the north side of Hwy 70, firefighters constructed dozer line on the east flank, improved and held line on the northeast corner, contained numerous spot fires on the northwest corner and prepared and completed a successful burnout operation on the west flank.

Today’s operations south of Hwy 70 (south of the East Fork of the Feather River): Today, crews and equipment will complete ongoing burnout operations and begin mop up efforts.

Today’s operations north of Hwy 70 (north of the East Fork of the Feather River): Crews and equipment will continue will mop up and complete control lines, prepare the 22 Road from Deadwood Saddle to the 67 Road for burnout and burnout the 22 Road as necessary on the southeast flank. Dozers will continue to construct line at the
head of the fire on the NE corner with support from engines. Crews, dozers, with support from engines, will focus on establishing dozer and handline down the No Name Ridge. Engines and dozers will work the unburned area above Hwy
70 on the southeast flank. The structure protection group will continue with perimeter control actions to protect structures along Hwy 70 and the Rich Gulch area and make further evaluations on needed structure protection along
Hwy 70 to the east.

Tonight, crews and equipment will provide perimeter control structure protection and coordinate the continuation of suppression efforts with today’s operations, including burnout operations on the north side of Hwy 70 and the east flank of the fire.

BELDEN FIRE STATUS: The Belden Fire, located ¾ mile west of Belden, should remain quiet with some creeping and smoldering along the upper fire edge. This fire will continue to be monitored by air. Water bucket drops will be made on the north flank of the fire as necessary.


Mandatory & Voluntary Evacuations: Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for the Feather River Canyon area of Rush Creek Road. Voluntary evacuations are in effect for Caribou, Seneca and the South portion of Butt Lake.

Evacuation Shelter: Veterans’ Hall on Lawrence Street in Quincy. For 24-hour evacuation status information, contact 530-283-6102 or visit the Plumas County website at www.countyofplumas.com for additional information.

Closures and Road Status: A soft closure remains in effect between the Greenville “Y” at Hwy 89 & 70 and Virgilia and between Grandview and Caribou Road. Three emergency closure areas on the Plumas National Forest were signed into effect on July 31 by Forest Supervisor Alice Carlton, also for public safety purposes. The Pacific Crest Trail and Bucks Lake Trail are impacted by this closure order. Go to www.fs.fed.us/r5/plumas/ for more information on forest closure Order No. 08-08.

FIRE FACTS: Started: July 29, 2008; Cause: Under investigation; Location: 20 miles West of Quincy, CA;
Resources:
22 hand crews, 8 helicopters (air support is being shared with the Canyon Complex), 33 engines, 4 dozers, 4 water
tenders, 646 total personnel.

SAFETY CONCERNS: Multiple air resources, numerous historic mining sites, firefighter fatigue and steep, rocky terrain with numerous standing dead trees and rolling material.

RESOURCE CONCERNS: Protection of wilderness values, water quality in wild and scenic rivers, sensitive species habitat and scenic/roadless areas by utilizing minimum disturbance practices.

VALUES AT RISK: CA State Highway 70, Feather National Scenic Byway, railroad corridor, communications site on Red Hill, power lines servicing the community of Quincy, structures to the NW and Bucks Lake Wilderness, sensitive species, high value timber and archaeological sites.

WEATHER: The tail end of a cold front will cause minor weather changes bringing slightly cooler temperatures and higher humidities. This morning’s inversion is expected to break around mid-morning. Temps 80-93F and relative humidity (Rh) 18-27% in river canyons. Temps 78-82 and on Rh 23-30% on upper slopes above 4000 ft. Ridgetop winds
becoming SW 5-10 mph late morning, increasing to 10-15 mph in afternoon. Late afternoon gusts 20-30 mph. Down slope and down canyon winds 5-10 mph with gusts to 15 mph in the early morning then diminishing. Winds becoming upslope and up canyon 6-12 mph late morning, then increasing 12-22 mph in the afternoon. Gusts 22-28 mph in the
afternoon in the river canyon. Sunday predictions indicate drying Sunday afternoon with a bit less wind. For the 3-5 day outlook, very dry air will move in from the Desert Southwest Sunday night through Tuesday. Partly cloudy late Tuesday
through Wednesday with a chance of thunderstorms.

FIRE BEHAVIOR: Fire behavior is mostly moderate, with pockets of more intense behavior on the NE corner N of Hwy 70 and on the E flank S of Hwy 70. Spotting activity is less than ¼ mile ahead of the fire, with single tree torching and general movement to the Northeast.

August 2 8:30 a.m.
Morning Update

According to the situation report filed during the night, the Rich Fire is now 5,198 acres. Personnel assigned to the fire has increased to 646. The estimated containment date has been moved back from 8/12 to 8/15.

Click here to view the latest Plumas County air quality update.

http://www.countyofplumas.com/air_quality_08_01_08.pdf
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