Chips Fire 8/9/2012 update

Feather Publishing
8:00 p.m. update

Crews kept the fire within containment lines despite challenging weather conditions including hot temperatures, gusty winds, and low humidity. Most of the smoke produced today was generated by active fire spread in the Soda Creek drainage which cast a spot fire into Grizzly Meadows. Burning operations conducted by crews yesterday afternoon helped keep the fire at bay.

Crews began mop up along the northern flank. The fire backed down slopes to Highway 70 along its southeastern flank. Downslope movement was also observed near Mosquito Creek on the eastern flank. Aircraft supported crews with water drops to cool areas of intense heat that could have generated additional spot fires in that drainage area. With the exception of upper Soda Creek fire activity was minimal along the western flank.

Crews also continued to construct and plan for additional contingency lines as an added measure of protection for nearby communities and valued places far ahead of the fire area should the fire overcome primary containment lines.

Loosened rocks and debris in areas where the fire has already burned through pose a safety hazard for firefighters, especially on steep slopes. Motorists should use caution and expect minor delays when travelling the Feather River Canyon due to the potential for fire activity and the increased firefighter traffic in the area.

The Incident Command Post will be moved from East Quincy to Almanor Campground.

Fuels moisture remains critically low. The fire is expected to continue a gradual descent on the eastern flank towards Mosquito Creek. Crews plan to staff the northern flank to hold the fire within containment lines and complete additional mop up where needed. Burnout operations may be conducted along the northwest flank to strengthen containment lines if conditions are favorable.

Down canyon drafts during the night will likely contribute to smoky conditions in the greater Sacramento Valley. Winds are expected to change in the morning and resume from the east.

The California Department of Transportation is implementing traffic controls along Highway 70 due to safety concerns. Travelers should check Highway 70 conditions regularly (800-427-ROAD / www.dot.ca.gov). Motorists should expect delays and need to anticipate firefighting personnel and apparatus on the road in the vicinity of the fire.

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/.

To report and get updates on power outages please call PG&E's 24-hour emergency and customer service line: 1-800-743-5002.

5:00 p.m. update

Crews successfully initiated firing operations last night on the fire's northwest flank near Castle Rock. The firing (back-fire) add an area of black between the constructed line and the main fire in Soda Creek. Crews will continue to improve line on the fire's west and north flanks today. On the fires active northeast flank, crews are constructing handline and installing hose lines along Mosquito Creek to contain the fire where it had escaped containment lines.

The spot fire on the east side of the Feather River's north fork at Red Hill is now within containment lines. The fire is expected to reach Highway 70 today which may result in an increase in containment on the fire. Motorists should use caution and expect minor delays when travelling the Feather River Canyon due to fire and firefighter activity in the area.

Construction of contingency line along the Humbug Road will continue today. Contingency line construction has been initiated between the Yellow Creek area and Butt Lake, and from Butt Lake south towards Cherry Hill. Contingency lines are installed as an extra measure of protection for important values at risk and will only be used should the fire overcome primary containment lines that are in place.

PG&E reports that communities around Lake Almanor do not face the greater threat of power outages like the Plumas County communities of Quincy and the Feather River Canyon are facing from the Chips Fire, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) said today.

The Lake Almanor Basin has two transmission power lines serving it: the Caribou-Westwood line and the Hat Creek-Westwood line. Should the line from Caribou be impacted by the Chips Fire, all customers in the basin will receive power from Hat Creek. No fires are threatening the Hat Creek-Westwood line.


7:00 a.m. update

Fire managers have released a new map of the Chips Fire (Click here for map) this morning. The map shows the fire size has increased to 18,681 acres.

The map also shows the Chips Fire has been burning almost entirely within the footprint of the 13 year old Storrie Fire. Part of what makes this significant is the tremendous amount of dead fuel left behind from the Storrie Fire. Trees that were killed but not consumed now provide an extreme level of dead and dry fuel for the Chips Fire.

The map also tells the story of the challenge fire fighters face on the Chips Fire. Along the northeast flank of the fire there are a number of places where a fire line was constructed, but the fire moved beyond the line. Wind borne spot fires have been carrying the fire out ahead of the main fire front. There is nothing more disheartening to a fire fighter to work so hard in such adverse conditions building fire line only to lose that line and have to back up and start again.

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