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Chips Fire 8/11/2012 update; now at 30,000 acres

Feather Publishing
8/11/2012
9:30 update

Yesterday the fire crossed primary containment lines in the Mosquito Creek drainage, as well as south of the Little Grizzly dispersed camping area on the fire's north flank. It grew by nearly 10,000 acres. The fire also spotted across the North Fork of the Feather River, and Caribou Road onto Red Hill where crews worked through the night to construct line to keep the fire north of Highway 70. PG&E transmission lines were shut down yesterday afternoon due to impacts from the smoke and heat.

The power outage impacted customers across Plumas County. The primary containment line on the fire's northeast flank now stretches from Yellow Creek Camp to Butt Valley Reservoir, then from the Reservoir south to Highway 70. Firefighters and dozers are working to secure and improve these lines today. The Incident Command Post is now established on Highway 89 near the west shore of Lake Almanor to provide better support to firefighters working in the vicinity.

Firefighters are working to establish and improve primary containment lines on Humbug Road north of the fire. Resources are also scouting locations for contingency lines to respond to the potential for additional spot fires outside of the primary containment lines. New contingency lines will be established along Highway 89 and north of Humbug Road.

A Red Flag warning has been issued for the Chips Fire area from 1pm to 7m due to continued above normal temperatures, critically dry fuels, and the potential for long-range spotting (up to 1.5 miles). PG&E transmission lines may need to be shut down again today. This is to allow for firefighting activities including the use of air tankers. Power outages may impact surrounding communities in the Lake Almanor region (To report and get updates on power outages please call PG&E’s 24-hour emergency and customer service line: 1-800-743-5002.).

Crews will continue to construct and hold containment lines where conditions are favorable, and will continue to assess and improve alternate control lines in the Humbug Valley easy of Red Hill and in the area of Butt Lake Reservoir. Crews will provide perimeter protection for developed areas including Rush Creek, Seneca, Gansner, Queen Lily, and the Red Hill communications site. Initial attack responsibilities remain in effect. A contingency group will continue to scout out and construct alternate containment lines. Additional resources have been ordered to provide structure protection.

5:00 p.m. update

A good look at the smoke column suggests that the Chips Fire is burning with plenty of ferocity, but probably a bit more tame than yesterday. There has been no official word from the Forest Service about what is happening on the fire lines. But radio traffic suggests that it is not as bad as yestereday.

Still, PG&E has been sending phone, and reportedly, text messages to customers warning of power loss between 5:00 and 8:30 this evening.

Last nights outages were much more widespread than expected ranging from Graeagle, to Quincy, Indian Valley, the Almanor Basin, Westwood, and even Susanville

Residents in all of these areas should be prepared for more outages.

PG&E says they must de-energize power lines to protect firecrews trying to defent the lines and protect the transmission lines from retardant drops from airtanker and helicopters.


8:00 a.m. update
Fire managers may not be getting all of the resources they need to fight the Chips Fire.

Fire managers have stated that "It is imperative to obtain the additional resources that have been requested to achieve management objectives." Apparently there are concerns about getting adequate resources. This Chips Fire is just one of 63 large fires buring out of control nationally. Many are much larger than the Chips Fire. The "drawdown" of various categories of firefighting resources ranges from "significant" to "critical". Under these conditions, fire managers at the national level are forced to make difficult decisions about whcih fires get the available resources, and which must wait.

That is not good news for fire managers on the Chips Fire. Even here in northern California, the Reading Fire burning in Shasta County just to the north, is considered a higher priority by regional fire managers. The Reading Fire is just south of, and buring towards, the communities of the Hat Creek Valley.

Yesterday the fire crossed primary containment lines in the Mosquito Creek drainage, as well as south of the Little Grizzly dispersed camping area on the fire’s north flank. It grew by nearly 10,000 acres. The fire also spotted across the North Fork of the Feather River, and Caribou Road onto Red Hill where crews worked through the night to construct line to keep the fire north of Highway 70. PG&E transmission lines were shut down yesterday afternoon due to impacts from the smoke and heat. The power outage impacted customers across Plumas County.

The primary containment line on the fire’s northeast flank now stretches from Yellow Creek Camp to Butt Valley Reservoir, then from the Reservoir south to Highway 70. Firefighters and dozers are working to secure and improve these lines today. The Incident Command Post is now established on Highway 89 near the west shore of Lake Almanor to provide better support to firefighters working in the vicinity.

Firefighters are working to establish and improve primary containment lines on Humbug Road north of the fire. Resources are also scouting locations for contingency lines to respond to the potential for additional spot fires outside of the primary containment lines. New contingency lines will be established along Highway 89 and north of Humbug Road.

A Red Flag warning has been issued for the Chips Fire area from 1pm to 7m due to continued above normal temperatures, critically dry fuels, and the potential for long-range spotting (up to 1.5 miles).

PG&E transmission lines may need to be shut down again today. This is to allow for firefighting activities including the use of air tankers. Power outages may impact surrounding communities in the Lake Almanor region (call the PG&E outage number below for more details).

The Red Flag warning for the Chips Fire area indicates that extreme fire behavior is possible again today. Extreme fire behavior may occur in upper Soda Creek Canyon, Upper Mosquito Creek near Butt Valley Reservoir, and along the North Fork of the Feather River where southwest winds are expected to drive the fire up canyon. Critical fire weather conditions are expected between 1 pm and 7 pm today.

 

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.

An updated map will be posted as soon as it available.

The smoke column is clearly visible on this live satelite photo.

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