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The advancing Loyalton Fire eventually closed portions of Highways 70 and 395 yesterday. The routes remain closed today except for a brief time this morning when the CHP reported escorting cars through the 395 closure. Photo by Averil Kimble

Loyalton Fire: Aug. 17 evening update – 10 percent contained

Image of the Loyalton Fire taken from a plane on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 13. Posted by Washington State Fire Wire

UPDATE: 9:30 p.m.: The residents of the Loyalton Skilled Nursing Facility operated by Eastern Plumas Health Care are being evacuated to its Portola facility. The staff will be contacting families.

A mandatory evacuation has also been ordered for Sierra Brooks. Highway 49 from Dyson Lane to west side of Loyalton is closed for the rest of the evening. The CHP announced it will be patrolling within the area all evening.

UDATE: 8:30 p.m: As of this evening, no additional structures were damaged or destroyed. Thunderstorms provided some wetting rain, but lightning strikes caused additional starts within the fire area. Winds caused activity to pick up during the evening. There are evacuation advisories for the outskirts of Loyalton.

UPDATE: 3:45 p.m., Aug. 17: Following are the latest evacuation notices:

Effective immediately, Mandatory Evacuation Orders have been put in place for the east side of Smithneck Road in Sierra Brooks.

Mandatory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for Balls Canyon Road, Long Valley Road, and Copperfield.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the areas of Cold Springs and Bordertown.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the areas of Chilcoot and Vinton.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the area of Hwy 49 and 70 south to Loyalton, and to the east side of Hwy 49.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the area of Sierra Brooks, other than the mandatory area mentioned above.

All Evacuation Orders in Lassen County have been lifted. Residents are allowed to return to their homes.

Road Closures:

Hwy 395 is currently open.

Hwy 70 is currently open and under and advisory evacuation.

Hwy 49 is currently open

UPDATE: 8:25 a.m., Aug. 17: The Tahoe National Forest announced that thus far five homes and six outbuildings have been destroyed in the blaze. The cause of the Loyalton Fire is lightning; previously it had been listed as under investigation.

The following is from the forest’s morning briefing:

The fire burned actively overnight, showing considerable spread on the west and south sides. Crews made good progress, however, especially around the long finger that moved southeast yesterday west of Highway 395 and threatened the areas around Bordertown and Cold Springs. There is now fire line around that area, and forward progress has been stopped as of now. All evacuation orders remain in effect today.

Day shift crews will continue the work from overnight, tying the line constructed around the finger back into the main body of the fire. They will use indirect (away from the fire’s main edge) and direct (against the fire’s edge) tactics to continue suppression.
Ten helicopters are currently assigned to the fire, with most flying out of the Truckee Airport. Fixed-wing aircraft is available to the fire on an as-needed basis.

Fire activity has picked up considerably in California (and the country) over the last few days, and with many new starts around the state, resources are being shared and use to their best effectiveness.

Weather: Temperatures today are expected to be similar to yesterday. Winds today are predicted to be lighter, with only a small chance of thunderstorms in the forecast. A fire weather watch does remain in effect over the area.

UPDATE: 8 a.m., Aug. 17: According to the latest information provided, the fire was active overnight, especially on the south and west sides, but good progress was made on the finger running to the south parallel to Highway 395.

The fire is at 36,295 acres and 5 percent contained.

This is the latest on evacuation orders:

Mandatory evacuation from Red Rock Road south to Highway 70 has been lifted.

A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Red Rock Road (California) and Hwy 395 to the State line.

A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents on Scott Road on the north side of Hwy 70.

A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Hwy 49 and 70 east to Hwy 70.

Effective immediately, Mandatory Evacuation Orders have been issued for Balls Canyon Road, Long Valley Road, Bordertown and Copperfield.

Evacuation Advisory

The north side of Hwy 70 and the east side of Hwy 395.

Cold Springs

Road Closures

Highway 70 is now open and under and advisory evacuation.

 

UPDATE: 6 p.m, Aug. 16. The Loyalton fire is now at 29,829 acres. The following is the latest information released on the fire:

Loyalton Fire evacuation orders update

Effective immediately, a Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Red Rock Road (California) and Hwy 395 to the State line.

Effective immediately, Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents on Scott Road on the north side of Hwy 70.

Effective immediately, a Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Hwy 49 and 70 east to Hwy 70 and Hwy 395. Hwy 395 south to the state line. This encompasses everything south of Hwy 70 and west of 395.

Effective immediately, Mandatory Evacuation Orders have been issued for Balls Canyon Road, Long Valley Road, Bordertown and Copperfield. Bordertown/Cold Springs are limited to the west of 395.

Evacuation Advisory

Effective immediately, an Evacuation Advisory has been issued for the north side of Hwy 70 and the east side of Hwy 395.

Road Closures

Hwy 70 is closed from Hwy 49 to 395. Hwy 395 is now open.

 

UPDATE: 5:15 p.m.: The CHP is reporting that due to favorable winds, Highway 70 is open for the time being. Please keep your speed down, as there are multiple fire crews in the area.

UPDATE: 12:15 p.m.: There are new mandatory evacuations ordered for Long Valley Road, Bordertown and Copperfield.

The Tahoe National Forest is reporting that the Loyalton Fire is now at  20,000 acres as of this morning, Aug. 16 and 0 percent contained.

According to the update that the forest released this morning, ground resources made positive progress yesterday afternoon backed by multiple helicopters and air tankers dropping water and retardant. The Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) made numerous drops in the early evening. VLATs are converted DC-10s or 747s that supply nearly 20,000 gallons of retardant per drop. Air resources will continue support today as conditions allow.

The Loyalton Fire displayed active behavior throughout the night. Firefighters worked through the night extinguishing spot fires outside the current fire perimeter and protecting threatened structures. Extreme fire behavior has been displayed at times, especially when overhead thunderstorm cells cause downdrafts and dangerous fire conditions.

The Loyalton Fire is burning north and east adjacent to the areas of Beckwourth Pass and Hallelujah Junction.  The fire is burning in timber, sagebrush and tall grass.

Though this morning’s report did not include a mention of structures that were destroyed, a Plumas News reporter who lives in the vicinity of Scott Road, said that at least three homes were destroyed including her neighbor’s.

Red Flag Warnings are in place throughout the immediate area today due to thunderstorms, strong outflow winds, and dry vegetation.

Evacuations: Effective immediately, Lassen County Sheriff’s Office has issued Evacuation Orders for the following areas:

  • Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Red Rock Road and Hwy 395 to the State line.
  • Effective immediately, Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents on Scott Road on the north side of Hwy 70.
  • Effective immediately, a Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Hwy 49 and 70 east to Hwy 70 and Hwy 395. Hwy 395 south to the state line. This encompasses everything south of Hwy 70 and west of 395.
  • Effective immediately, an Evacuation Advisory has been issued for the north side of Hwy 70 and the east side of Hwy 395.
  • People need to leave the evacuation area. Please be courteous to your neighbors and use caution due to first responders in the area. Evacuees needing shelter should call the Lassen County Emergency Shelter number (530)250-9088.
  • People with special needs who will need help evacuating should call (530)257-6121 and let Lassen County Sheriff’s Office know what assistance you will need. Deputies are going door to door in the area to notify residents.

Closures: Highway 70 closed from Highway 49 to Highway 395. Hwy 395 is currently open to one-way and/or escorted traffic in the Hallelujah Junction/Stateline. Be advised to consider alternative travel routes. Please drive slow, use headlights, and yield to emergency personnel.

Animals – both large and small – can be evacuated to the Plumas Sierra County Fairgrounds in Quincy. Call Willow at 251-7150; Gabriel at 916-316-7609; or Lauren at 927-8018.

The Loyalton Fire, burning on the Tahoe National Forest, began Aug. 14, east of Loyalton in Sierra County. At midday Saturday it was reported at 2,300 acres, but by the evening it had exploded to more than 15,000 acres, even producing a tornado.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

 

 

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