Fire fighters make progress on fires

Feather Publishing
8:00 a.m. Update

The four fires that make up the Caribou Complex on the Plumas National Forest are now 100% contained. The fires burned a total of 95 acres.

Traffic control on Hwy 70 in the Feather River Canyon will be in place at the beginning and ending of the day shift due to suppression equipment and personnel in roadway. Delays will be minimal.

This will be the last update on these fires.

5:30 a.m. Update

Fire activity was minimal over-night.  Crews will continue to improve fire lines and mop up today.

Today, the overall containment for all four fires is 95%.  Full containment is expected tomorrow, August 17.   

Firefighting resources for today includes:  2 helicopters,  16 engines, and 4 Hotshot Type 1 crews, 4 Type 2 hand crews, and 3 water tenders.  Release of some firefighting resources will also begin today. 

Hwy 70 is open with one-way traffic controls and a pilot car escort for a short one-mile stretch of highway where fire equipment will be working.  Motorists should expect brief delays.  Please use caution when driving through the fire area. 


7:00 p.m. Update

The Rock fire, the only un-contained fire in the Caribou Complex, is now 80% contained.  That is incredibly good news considering the odds firefighters were facing. For the second day in a row fire activity on this now 63 acre blaze was held to a minimum.  Crews have made significant progress despite the extremely rugged terrain.

Highway 70 is open to normal two way traffic except for a short distance of one-way controlled traffic in the vicinity of the Rock fire.

 10:30 a.m. Update

Three of the Caribou Complex fires are contained.  Activity on the fourth fire, the Rock Fire, was limited overnight.  The fire is not yet contained but between the good work of the hotshot crews on the ground and water and retardant dropping aircraft the fires active burning and spread has been limited.

Highway 70 remains open with one way escorted traffic through a 20 mile stretch of road in the vicinity of the fires.  Motorists should expect 20 minute delays.

With the fire laying down, and the dangerous conditions of the very steep rocky slopes, fire managers decided to not staff the fire last night in the interest of firefighter safety.

Aggressive attack on the fire has resumed this morning. Hot shot crews will continue to cut fire line around the fire and helicopters are available to support them with water drops as needed. 

With yesterday's progress, fire officials are more optimistic that they will be able to contain the Rock Fire and prevent it from becoming  a major fire.


6:30 p.m Update

Fire fighters are making excellent progress on the fires in the Caribou Complex.  Three are contained and in the mop up stage.

The fourth fire, the Rock Fire, is still not contained. Aircraft were successful in herding the active part of the fire into some rocky slopes with sparse vegetation.  Hotshot crews are still working to cut a handline around the fire in order to contain it.  

Much work remains to be done but the lack of smoke and lack of airtankers flying over Plumas County is a real testament to the hard work being done by our fire fighters.

 1:45 p.m. Update

Highway 70 has been re-opened to one way traffic with a pilot car throught the vicinity of the fires. Expect delays of up to 20 minutes.

12:00 p.m. Update

There are conflicting reports on when Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon might open to one-way traffic.  Some agencies are estimating it will open this afternoon, but CalTrans is not reporting an estimated time for opening to one-way traffic.

It is quite possible this afternoons fire activity will be the determining factor. 

The Forest Service is attacking the one remaining actively burning fire, the Rock Fire, very aggressively.  If they are successful, it is possible some traffic will be allowed through with escorts on Highway 70.  But this fire is in very difficult terrain and has a high probability of burning into the old Storrie burn.  If this happens a large and very intense fire is possible and that could keep the Highway closed for some time.

The highway closure serves two purposes.  First it keeps firefighters working the bottom flank of the fire along the highway safe.  Perhaps even more importantly, a fire in this terrain is likely to cause a significant amount of rolling debris to come down on the highway.  This would put any passing motorists at serious risk of injury.


9:45 a.m. Update

Fire officials have revised the fire size estimate.  They now estimate that the two fires near Woody's Hot Springs about 2 miles east of Twain are 8 and 20 acres.  The fire near Belden is 10 acres and the still actively burning Rock fire 4 miles west of Belden is about 40 acres.

Highway 70 is expected to open to one-way controlled traffic later this morning

Firefighting resoures include 2 Type 1 helicopters (these are the largest heli-tankers), 2 Type 2 (slightly smaller) helicopters, 9 engine crews, and 10 Type 1 hotshot crews. 

9:00 a.m. Update

Fire crews made excellent progress over night on the four fires that make up the Caribou Complex.  Two of the fires (Wood and Hot) are contained and in the mop up phase.  These fires are approximately 30 and 10 acres respectively.  A third fire, the Beldon Fire, is about 10 acres and has a fire line and  a hose lay around it, making it close to contained.

The fourth fire, called the Rock  Fire is still burning actively.  Size is uncertain at this time but estimated to be between 10 and 50 acres.  Fire fighters are concerned that this fire could burn into the area  burned several years ago by the Storrie Fire.  This area has heavy fuel loadings of dead brush, trees, and standing snags that were killed in the previous fire.  These heavy fuel loads and the extremely steep terrain could make this an exceptionally difficult fire to fight.

Fire fighters are concentrating their efforts on the Rock Fire today, utilizing numerous aircraft to knock the fire down with water and retardant drops while type 1 hotshot crews attack the on the ground attempting to build control lines around the blaze. 

Water dropping helicopters are especially useful in situations like this because they can get water from the nearby river without having to return to an air tanker base to reload and their maneuverability allows them to fly into the steep canyon and drop water much more accurately than the faster and less maneuverable air tankers. If the fire grows and approaches the ridge top look for more use of fixed wing air tankers that are very effective at dropping large amounts of retardant along the more open ridge lines.  

Expect smoke to increase as the day goes on and warmer breezier weather increases the fire activity.   Smoke will move up the Feather River Canyon and become very visible in the Almanor basin.

The Red Cross shelter at the Veterans Hall in Quincy has been closed.  Electrical Power is being restored throughout the area.  PG&E is currenlty doing aerial inspection of their power lines to look for additional problem areas.

6:00 a.m. Update

Firefighters continue to battle four fires, that make up the Caribou Complex,  in a very steep area on the north side of the Feather River Canyon near Belden. Two of the fires are between Belden and Woody Hot Springs (Near Twain)  to the east.  The other two are further west between Belden and Caribou. 

Tentative plans for attacking the fire this morning include aggressive use of water and retardant dropping aircraft to limit the uphill spread of the fires. Additional firefighting resources have been ordered and should arrive this morning.

As of 6:00 a.m. this morning, Highway 70 is still closed due to these wildfires.  Highways 36 and 32 are suggested as alternate routes.   

The status of the power outages in the Feather River Canyon and Indian Valley are unknown at this time and there is no information confirming they are directly related to the four fires.

Each of the four fires believed  to be 30 acres or less.  The size of the Hot Fire, which was the last one detected, is not know, but it was believed to be the largest of the four fires. 

A shelter has been opened at the Veterans Hall on Lawrence Street in downtown Quincy.



9:00 p.m Update

Plumas National Forest fire information has closed down for the night.  A call to Plumas dispatch indicated they had no additional information about the size of the fires.    Radio traffic has not indicated significant additional resource ordering which suggests that fire fighting resources on the scene are getting a good handle on the fires.  

Cal Trans reporst that Highway 70 is closed from Jarbo gap in Butte County to the junction of Highways 70 and 89 at the Greenville Wye in Plumas County.

Normally, local residents and emergency traffic are the only vehicles permitted within the closed area. 

A Plumas District Hospital ambulance was dispatched to the vicinity of the fires to treat a male victim with heat exhaustion but it was not known if the victim was a civilian or a fire fighter.

This will likely be the last update until morning.


7:30 Update

The Forest Service confirms that there are four separate fires burning in the Feather River Canyon.  The Rock Fire, the last one to be reported and the furthest to the west, appears to have the most potential for growth at this time.  

10 to 12 fire engines are on the scene.  Four hot shot crews have been ordered.  (At least one is already on the scene.)  Six air tankers and two heavy helicopters had been ordered earlier. No structures appear to be threatened.  Power is out in parts of Indian Valley, but it is not confirmed that the power outage is related to the fire.

7:00 p.m. Update

The Plumas County Sheriff's department is notifying residents in the vicinity of Little Haven  of the need to evacuate.  No update on the size of the fires is available at this time.  


6:00 p.m. Update

Two loads of smokejumpers from Redding are responding to the fires.  The Feather River Canyon is a tricky location for smokejumpers due to the extremely steep terrain, but they may be able to get to the top of the fire faster than ground crews responding from Highway 70. 

Batallion 21, the Incident Commander for the Hot Fire  reports that  the fire could be picked up if they can get water to it soon.


5:45  p.m. Update

Plumas County Sheriff' Department confirms the existence of a fourth fire.  No fire suppression units have arrived at that incident yet.


5:30 p.m. Update

A third fire has been confirmed west of the first two fires near the mouth of Chips Creek along Highway 70.  A fourth potential  fire is being discussed by responding agencies  but has not yet been confirmed.  Mt Hough Lookout reports there is too much smoke to see for sure how many fires there are.  Air attack is seeing three fires at this time.

Division 2, the Fire Management Officer for the Mt Hough District of the Plumas National Forest,  has requested that Butte County CDF be notified that a possible arsonist is moving towards their jurisdiction


5:00 p.m.

Two fires have been reported in the Feather River Canyon in Plumas County near Twain.  The fires are reported to be approximately 3 miles apart.  They are burning on the north side of the highway and headed uphill.

The Plumas National Forest has initiated a "Heavy" dispatch which includes numerous engines, hand crews and air resources.  An additional 2 airtankers had been ordered since the initial diospatch  bringing the total to four. An Air attack unit just arrived at the scene and ordered  2 more airtankers bringing the total to six airtankers.

The air attack unit reports the fires are only 4 or five acres burning uphill but  the spread potential is significant.


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