7:30 p.m. update: And now for some good news. The Forest Service is reporting that excellent progress was made today as more line was secured on the southwestern perimeter and dozer contingency/containment lines near completion on the east. The daily inversion lifted reasonably early allowing operations to get an earlier start today. After the eastern lines are completed and conditions (including support from appropriate aircraft) are deemed right, firefighters will start conducting larger scale burnout operations to secure the eastern lines. While the operations will produce smoke, the eventual results could protect East Quincy and La Porte Road from the fire.
Tomorrow morning’s 6 a.m. briefing at the fairgrounds’ fire camp will be the last in that location. The camp is moving to a vacant field a couple of miles away to make room for the Plumas-Sierra County Fair that gets underway next Wednesday. This Friday, exhibits, fair entries and campers begin arriving so the move was necessary to free up the fairgrounds.
3:30 p.m. update: The airport in Quincy is now closed to general aviation and isn’t expected to reopen until midnight on Saturday. The Forest Service is relying on helicopters to fight the fire from the air rather than on aircraft, which have been deployed to other fires. According to Dony Sawchuk, Plumas County’s facilities director and airport manager, the Forest Service said that simply dropping water alone on the fire wasn’t as effective as mixing water with retardants so company was brought in that specializes in that product. To keep the operations away from structures, they determined that the airport’s runway and its proximity to the fire was the best location to stage their operations. The company is setting up two 5,000 gallon mixing trucks that will feed the two 5,000 gallon supply tanks for the four heavy-lifting helicopters dropping the retardant-water mixture on the flames.
According to the Forest Service, six very small fires have resulted from last night’s lightning strikes – all within the central Plumas National Forest including southwest of Kettle Rock, northwest of Mt. Ingalls, three along Grizzly Ridge and another south of Sloat. They range in size from one-tenth to two acres.
11:21 a.m. update: The Forest Service is reporting that lookouts are beginning to see small fires, typically one tree, as a result of last night’s lightning strikes. The sightings have primarily been above the north arm of Indian Valley and Genesee Valley. As reported earlier, winds during the thunderstorm caused the fire to push down the Mill Creek drainage, which made flames very visible in East Quincy, but then a wind shift pushed the fire back up the hill and into itself.
Feather Publishing currently has a reporter out on the fire and will post an update and photos from her trip. Another reporter has been interviewing firefighters and local businesses to capture a look at “a day in the life of a firefighter,” which will be featured in next week’s newspaper.
7:15 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 3: The Minerva Fire, which broke out at approximately 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 29, now stands at 1,825 acres and is 33 percent contained. During this morning’s 6 a.m. briefing, Forest Service officials focused on firefighter safety, particularly in light of last evening’s thunder storms. The storms forced the air attack to end earlier than planned and threatened firefighters on the ground. Some areas of the fire received good precipitation, while others did not. It was reported that the Middle Branch of Mill Creek “got aggressive” and moved around a couple hundred acres. More thunderstorms are predicted for this afternoon.
Fire crews on the ground will continue to work on building direct and indirect lines, and prepare for future burnout. Once the inversion layer lifts this morning, the air attack will continue with helicopters and super scoopers.
Heat will continue to be an issue today and yesterday one firefighter was treated for dehydration. Crews were reminded to remain hydrated and to look out for one another.
The briefing included a moment of silence for a firefighter who was killed by a falling tree fighting a fire in Montana yesterday.