Greenhorn, Spring Garden, Sloat, Cromberg and East Quincy — there is the potential for the Dixie Fire to be a threat. That’s the message shared by East Zone Operations Section Chief Chad Cook this evening Aug. 21, as he was discussing the Genesee area of the Dixie Fire.
By the time the Dixie Fire is through with Plumas County, there will be few communities left unthreatened.
As of this evening the fire has burned 717,308 acres and is 36 percent contained.
The two hot spots on the fire today for the East Zone were the Janesville/Milford areas in Lassen County and the Taylorsville/Genesee areas in Plumas County.
Cook said that the crews have a pretty good box built to protect Janesville and most of it held in place. There are some spots, but crews continue to get around them.
There was a run toward Milford, but there were a lot of resources there. Cook said they are still waiting for a damage assessment. Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growdon addressed the area as well and said Highway 395 was closed for a short period of time, but it is reopened. He expected the fire to travel south of the Janesville Grade so he reissued the mandatory evacuation order for anyone still remaining. However, the fire didn’t breach the grade.” Don’t think we are out of the woods, but it held up today,” he said.
Growdon said he traveled throughout the area and didn’t see any fire near Susanville; and is “hopeful that we are turning the corner,’ and will be able to start bringing people home again, he said.
As for the other hot spot – Taylorsville/Genesee — Cook said no structures were lost today.
In the Genesee Valley, Cook said that the fire is backing through the structures and into the Walker Fire scar. There is an open fire line, which is an area of concern, Cook said. But no structure losses were reported in Genesee.
As for Taylorsville, crews are putting dozer line around the town to protect it. It’s just dozer line, but it’s a beginning, he said.
As for the Highway 70 communities of Greenhorn, Spring Garden, Sloat and Cromberg, Cook said that people have noticed more engine traffic in the area. Cook explained that the Grizzly spot (thrown from the portion of the fire threatening Genesee) continues to grow, despite being worked all day with aircraft. There are crews in the area trying to determine a way to access it, but it is in steep, inaccessible terrain. While this is going on, crews are also building dozer line on Grizzly Ridge. “We want to protect Greenhorn, Spring Garden, Sloat, and Cromberg,” he said. “There are some drainages that could prove a threat later.” The fear is that if the fire crosses Grizzly Ridge and drops into the drainages, winds could push it toward those communities. “Last year we had the Claremont Fire,” Cook said, “and we were very successful protecting those structures.”
Cook also addressed the burn scar left from last year’s Claremont Fire and he said crews would be looking at opening up road systems and stopping the fire from spreading into East Quincy. “The fire is actively burning, and it does have the potential to come over (Grizzly Ridge). Just something to be on people’s minds,” he warned.
As for the Dyer Mountain area, another portion of the East Zone, Cook and the firefighters continue to work in the area to prevent any incursion into the Peninsula or Westwood.
“Tomorrow we are starting to do escorts for people into Greenville,” he said, adding that people will be called and will be given a date and a time for when they will be escorted. “This is going to be a tough visit,” he said. Johns acknowledged that this was short notice, but the Phase 1 team is going to start work on Tuesday. “I thought it was critically important for people to be able to see their properties,” he said, before the work begins. This team is looking for batteries, solvents, paints, etc. and will remove those items. It doesn’t involve using heavy equipment.
Between phase 1 and phase 2 (when the lots are actually cleared), residents will be able to look for valuables, etc. Johns said that there’s a lot of traffic control and he would allow an extra an hour to get to Greenville. “If it normally takes a half hour to get between Quincy and Greenville, allow an hour and a half,” he said.
As for the closure of nine national forests including Plumas and Lassen, Johns said he spoke with a local Fish and Wildlife lieutenant, and was told that hunters can request a refund or obtain an alternate tag if their zone has been impacted.
CHP liaison Sgt. Kevin Pack gave a list of the latest road closures but said that they can change quickly so to consult Caltrans before making a trip. He also asked motorists to avoid using Highway 89 if at all possible and said those leaving Chester should use Highway 36.
The West Zone provided a general update this evening, saying in its written report that the fire became more active today with the increased winds, but didn’t provide specifics. West Zone leadership will provide a comprehensive update during tomorrow night’s meeting.
However, this morning Operations Section Chief Mark Brunton said that the communities of Mill Creek and Childs Meadow looked good, with lots of containment lines in place. The fire was expected to push back on itself today.
He said that the Almanor Basin is also looking good from the West Shore into Chester and around on the East Shore and the Peninsula. The work on Highway 36 is providing protection from the north, while the work around Dyer Mountain is protecting the area from the south.
The next West Zone meeting is Sunday, Aug. 22 at 7: p.m.
The next East Zone meeting is Monday, Aug. 23 at 7:30 p.m.