As life took the first steps to returning to normal in some areas of the fire — the ordeal is just beginning for others. The Feather River Canyon — where the blaze took off July 13 — is now reopened. Highway 70 is open to the Greenville Wye and the communities along the corridor are under warnings rather than mandatory evacuations (with the exception of Rush Creek.)
But the fire continues to threaten communities in the Lake Almanor Basin and Lassen County. The fire was already divided into two zones — East and West — and now the West Zone is divided into three sectors: Butte, Lassen and Westwood.
As a result, the community meetings that have been held on alternate nights by the unified command, will now be held nightly, but will alternate the area of focus. Tonight will be focused on the East Zone, while tomorrow the attention will be on the West Zone. And that pattern will continue for the foreseeable future: East Zone on the odd days; West Zone on the even days.
As of tonight the ithe fire is 482,047 acres, and gained one percent of containment to 22 percent. There are 5,996 personnel assigned to it. Personnel had dropped from just over 6,000 to 4,800 at one point, but the numbers have been bolstered.
The extra personnel will be needed as the predicted weather will make the fire fight even more challenging. Incident meteorologist Rich Thompson said the area is looking to a return of hot and dry conditions — predicted to be over 100 degrees later this week — with extremely low humidity. Additionally, gusty southwest winds are expected each afternoon. And as if that’s not enough, from Thursday through Saturday, monsoonal moisture is predicted with the ability to produce thunderstorms and dry lightning.
The East Zone
In advance of that dire weather forecast, crews are working to secure as much of the fire line as possible. Operations Section Chief Kyle Jacobson presented a wrap up for the East Zone.
Everything in the southern edge is holding in its footprint and Jacobson said he feels confident that it will remain there. Additional resources have been used in Crescent Mills to mop up and secure that area as well. Jacobson said crews were also successful and were able to build indirect line at the bottom of Keddie Ridge.
He reported that the Lone Rock fire has moved into the Bear Valley area, but crews were able to get around the fire’s edge, where they are attempting to bring it into Diamond Mountain Road. Crews were aided by helicopters in this area for about three hours when weather permitted, as well as in the Keddie Ridge area.
There was no growth into the Sheep Fire burn scar.
As for Dyer Mountain, crew are working direct as well as indirect and building contingency lines, because given the current fire behavior, it’s unsure what this fire will do.
Good news for some area residents: No structures have been impacted on the East Shore of Lake Almanor, Clear Creek, or Westwood.
“All in all it’s been productive this past few days,” Jacobson said.
As for the community of Janesville, Jacobson said that they are putting in dozer lines and contingency lines between the fire and that community.
Good news and evacuations
Sheriff Todd Johns reiterated some of the good news that was announced earlier today —nall previously unaccounted persons have been accounted for, and the Highway 70 corridor is reopened and residents allowed to go home. He reiterated that Highway 70 is for essential travel only. It remains dangerous and crews are still working.
He’s probably tired of explaining it, but once again Johns said that when an evacuation warning is issued it means: Get prepared. Assemble your essential items, your pets, and prepare to leave. When the mandatory order to evacuate is given: Leave.
The three most recent mandatory evacuation orders were issued last night: Heart K Ranch (only north of Genesee Valley), Lone Rock, and Antelope. He told residents that if they are still there, they need to leave.
He assured viewers of the night’s briefing that he wants individuals to be able to return to their homes as soon as possible, but only when it’s safe. He also acknowledged those who had lost their homes and he said he understands that the process to grieve and heal can’t begin until they see their homes. Escorts will be arranged as soon as possible and the next steps explained. Information will be posted on the Sheriff’s Facebook page, as well as on plumascounty.us and here on Plumas News. Beginning at some point tomorrow, Aug. 10, a new phone number will be established for non-emergency inquiries regarding the fire. People should only call dispatch to report an emergency.
Johns said that he has been referencing Greenville a lot lately, but that he knows that individuals in Belden, Rich Bar, Indian Falls and other areas are equally impacted and he knows that all evacuated areas have experienced losses, even if homes haven’t been destroyed. “We will be strong and we will get through this together,” he said.
Plumas National Forest Supervisor Chris Carlton said that there have been inquiries about COVID testing at camp.
“We all hoped we’d be in a different place this season,” he said, but that’s not the case. “We have seen some people test positive,” he said, and, as a result, have returned to masking requirements within fire camps. Testing is being completed on symptomatic people as well as those who want to be tested before returning home. Additionally, vaccines are offered at camp.
Tomorrow night’s incident command meeting will be held via Zoom and on Facebook and will focus on the West Zone status.