Aug. 27 p.m. update: Blanket of smoke moderates the fire today

By Michael Condon

Special to Plumas News

Fire activity was minimal over most of the Dixie Fire today as a thick layer of smoke blanketed the fire area.  The northeast wind was light enough that it did not generate the mixing of the atmosphere necessary to lift out the smoke.  This kept a lid on the fire which is great, but it also kept aircraft grounded and made breathing uncomfortable for residents and especially for firefighters.

But the work goes on and the less intense fire activity made it easier for firefighters to get in close to the fire’s edge for direct line construction and mop up.

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Fire activity was very limited near Taylorsville today, allowing firefighters to continue aggressive mop up operations along the base of Mt Jura.  Preparation continues to the south east of  Taylorsville, widening the dozer lines and improving the protection around structures. This is in advance of the potential push of the Grizzly spot fire to the west towards Taylorsville.

Mop up and patrol continues in Genesee Valley.  The north side of the Genesee Road is very secure.  There are three separate spot fires that crossed the valley to the south.  The one getting most of the attention is the Grizzly spot fire.  The spot fire burning near Peel Ridge has already merged with the Grizzly spot fire. There is a third spot fire burning further to the east near the Flournoy Bridge.  This spot fire is also expected to merge with the Grizzly spot fire.  Firefighters are anticipating this and building a network of fire lines designed to catch all of this fire as it moves to the east.

The Grizzly spot fire has spotted over Grizzly Ridge both last night and again today.  Firefighters were well prepared for this and picked up all of the spots before the could become established.

The plan, according to Operations Section Chief Chad Cook, is to light backfires off the top of the ridge just ahead of the fire as it approaches the ridge top.  This will provide additional width to the fire-lines already in place allowing firefighters to deal with a low intensity back-fire rather than an intense fire running up to the ridge.

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Firefighters estimate the fire is still almost 9 miles from Cromberg, almost 6 miles from Greenhorn, 16.5 miles from Davis Lake and just over 8.5 miles from Quincy.

In Lassen County several fire crews continue patrolling and mopping up around the communities of Janesville and Millford.  Highway 36 between the Highway 44 junction and Westwood remains closed as crews continue to mop up the fire adjacent to the highway.  The mandatory evacuation order was reduced to a warning south of Hwy 36 from Devil’s Corral east to Korver Rd and south to Gold Run Road.

Crews on the north end of the fire continue building fire line and mopping up in an effort to prevent any further spread towards Old Station and Hat Creek.

Tactical patrols continue in the Antelope Lake, Lake Almanor, Dyer Mountain and the communities of Mill Creek and Mineral.

Stronger winds and lower humidity could increase fire activity over the next few days.

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The fire grew by 2,256 acres today for a total size of 752,928 acres. Containment increased slightly to 47 percent.

 

Team transitions

Firefighters normally work shifts of 12 hours or longer, seven days a week, while assigned to an incident.  The work can be grueling whether they are cutting fire-line as part of a hot shot crew or building maps in the planning section.  Eating fire camp food and sleeping on the ground in fire camp while away from your family can be very taxing.  Longer fire seasons with fires lasting weeks and months rather than just days add up to serious mental and physical fatigue.  To address this agencies have policies that require two days off after two weeks in the case of federal personnel and three weeks for CALFIRE.

This rotation applies to the incident management teams as well as the firefighters and support personnel.  As a result, the incident management teams for both the east zone, which is a federal team, and the west zone, which is a CALFIRE team are in the process of transitioning to new teams.  This transition takes a couple of days to make sure the incoming team members are completely up to speed and can take control of the incident seamlessly.  You can expect to seem some new faces managing the Dixie Fire over the next couple of days.

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