Remember Minerva? How does it compare to the Claremont?
As the glow from the Claremont Fire lit up the night sky behind Quincy and trees began igniting above La Porte Road last week, it was eerily reminiscent of the Minerva Fire that threatened town just three years ago.
The Minerva Fire also forced evacuations and burned in roughly the same timeframe, but that’s where all similarities end. When the Minerva Fire broke out July 29, 2017, it became the number one priority in the country — since it was early in fire season there were few fires burning and it was threatening an entire town.
Help arrived from all parts of the state and beyond — quickly and in force. Residents might remember that it was nearly impossible to go a block without seeing a fire truck and crew. They were stationed on every street for fire protection, stopped for breaks at Dame Shirley Plaza and filled the Safeway parking lot. Fire camp, initially at the fairgrounds was filled with tents, but then relocated to property near the county animal shelter so that the Plumas-Sierra County Fair could get underway.
The Claremont Fire broke out Aug. 17, but this year’s fair had already been canceled due to coronavirus, so when crews began trickling in, there was plenty of the room to house them. And while the Minerva Fire benefited from its timing — not a lot else going on — the Claremont did not. It was competing for resources with a historic number of fires across the state — many of which were threatening massive population centers.
As of today, Aug. 27, 10 days into the fire, there are 551 personnel allocated to fighting both the Claremont and the Bear fires. The Claremont Fire is now 20,697 acres and 30 percent contained.
Contrast that to day 10 of the Minerva Fire when 1,600 personnel were on scene. At that point, the fire was 4,288 acres and 64 percent contained. Fire personnel were already starting to go home. On July 31, there were 1,820 personnel on the Minerva, which was at 1,050 acres.
During a community briefing last evening, it was reported that there is roughly one-third the number of firefighters that typically would be allocated to the Claremont and other local fires.
The Minerva would go on to be considered 100 percent contained on Aug. 16 — approximately 19 days after it broke out; it remains to be seen when the Claremont will be contained. Given the circumstances and the shortage of personnel, firefighters are doing a remarkable job of fighting the Claremont.