Reinforcements have arrived to provide structure protection, including several engines from the Los Angeles Fire Department. Photo courtesy of the Haskins Valley Inn

Sept 2: Bear Fire update: Air quality hazardous tonight

UPDATE 9 p.m.: With the west winds, the Bear Fire pushed east into Pigeon Roost Creek toward the Claremont Fire and north into the Fourth Creek drainage. Both of those areas have indirect dozer line ahead of the fire and are not in populated areas. Crews continue to work on structure protection measures in Haskins Valley, Bucks Lake, Highlands communities to the northwest of the Bear Fire.

The big story continues to be the smoke and ash that are raining down on Quincy from the Bear and Claremont fires. But it’s not just Quincy that will be affected. Smoke will settle into valleys across the entire region from Susanville to Reno to Lake Tahoe to Grass Valley to Oroville to Chester. Heavy smoke will impact areas between Greenville and Portola. Areas near the fires, including Quincy, will see air quality in the very unhealthy and hazardous category tonight. Moderate smoke will settle into Sierra Valley. Smoke will dissipate somewhat tomorrow during the day. Expect slightly worse air quality conditions tomorrow.

UPDATE 5 p.m.: The Forest Service provided this update on the Bear Fire: With light west winds pressing it, the fire is moving to the east and north. The east flank of the fire is moving toward Pigeon Roost Creek drainage and the northern edge is pushing to Fourth Creek.

Original story: Clear skies allowed helicopters to fight the progress of the Bear Fire yesterday. While there was no additional progression to the west from earlier in the day, it did push up against the Pacific Crest Trail to the northwest. That’s where the helicopters focused their efforts to stop the fire spread until dozer lines could be completed to hold the fire south of communities.

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The Bear Fire is reported to be 11,046 acres and 14 percent contained.

While winds helped clear the air, they also increased fire activity on the Bear Fire yesterday. The fire spread out of the Willow Creek drainage toward the face of Mount Ararat and the dozer lines that were built to protect the Highlands, Haskins Valley, Bucks Lake and surrounding communities. With the fire in difficult and rugged terrain, firefighters continue to focus on indirect lines while searching for areas where they can safely insert personnel to go direct.

Structure protection units are in place throughout the area west and northwest of the fire including the Highlands community, Bucks Lake, Haskins Valley, and other significant structural assets. Residents have reported seeing firefighters assessing properties, checking driveways for accessibility, etc. An advisory remains in place for Bucks Lake area residents.

Initially few resources were allocated to the Bear Fire because of its initial remote location, difficult terrain and no threat to structures. But that has changed and resources have poured into the Bear Fire as firefighters hope to keep the fire from impacting the communities of Bucks Lake, Haskins Valley, Tollgate, Meadow Valley and Quincy. There is the potential for the Bear and Claremont fires to merge and firefighters want to be prepared and have already built a dozer perimeter that includes that eventuality.

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The Bear Fire broke out Aug. 17 following a lightning strike. Thus far no structures have been lost.