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This was the view from Meadow Valley yesterday as firefighters worked on the northwest flank of the Claremont Fire that spotted over dozer lines. Photo by Linda Blum

Sept. 2 Claremont Fire update: Containment drops to 47 percent

9 p.m. UPDATE: Containment went down today – dropping to 47 percent from 59 percent; with acreage at 24,078.

Air quality will be in the very unhealthy and hazardous category tonight following a day that saw ash rain down on Quincy. But Quincy won’t be the only area 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. Moderate smoke will settle into Sierra Valley. Smoke will dissipate somewhat tomorrow during the day. Expect slightly worse air quality conditions tomorrow.

Firefighters worked to contain a slop over that occurred late Tuesday on the Claremont Fire west of Claremont Trail. The rocky terrain is not suited for heavy equipment, but crews have been inserted into the area and they are confident it can be picked up.

Small spot fires south of highway 70 and west of Sloat were lined and mopped today and the southern line of the fire along the river and Forest Road 23N10 are holding well.

5 p.m. UPDATE: Meteorologist Brett Lutz, of the National Weather Service, on Sunday predicted that there would be clear air Monday and Tuesday for Quincy with a return of smoky skies Wednesday and he was right. It’s his job to advise firefighters about weather conditions so they can plan their attack.

Today the western flow is sending smoke and ash into Quincy and nearby communities as predicted, but not threatening containment lines at this time. Crews are going direct on the slopovers from late Tuesday west of Claremont Trail above McCarthy Bar.

9:15 a.m. UPDATE: The Forest Service released its weather and air quality information this morning. It’s expected that east winds will give way to light, terrain-driven winds in a general south and southwest flow. Increased temperatures and low humidity will contribute to the cumulative drying trend and a persistent chance for increased fire activity.

When the southwest winds return this afternoon, they will bring widespread light to moderate smoke back to the area. Smoke will settle into valleys at night and dissipate Thursday morning. Quincy likely will see heavy smoke at times later today. The Oroville area will continue to see light smoke at night as smoke travels down the Middle Fork Feather River valley. Continued southwest winds tomorrow may bring in additional smoke from other fires west of the Central Valley.

Original story: It was a mixed bag for the Claremont Fire yesterday: All evacuees were allowed to return home, but easterly winds pushed the fire northwest spotting over dozer lines. However clear skies — something Quincy residents hadn’t enjoyed in a while — allowed firefighters to attack from the air. Overnight hot shot crews worked to contain the spot fires that came over the fire’s edge.

The Claremont Fire grew slightly to 23,749 acres and remains stubbornly at 59 percent contained. (See maps below.)

The aircraft used to help stop the spread and attack the spot and main body of the fire included four single-engine air tankers, two MAFFs (Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems) and helicopters. MAFFs are portable fire retardant delivery systems that can be inserted into military C-130 aircraft without major structural modifications to convert them into airtankers when needed.

Over night the top priority for the Claremont Fire was to hold the west flank of the fire as crews work throughout the night to bolster fireline.

The remainder of the fire perimeter of the Claremont remained relatively calm as firefighters worked to strengthen line and mop up, except for one spot fire south of the Middle Fork. Crews remained there overnight as well.

Sheriff Todd Johns announced last evening that residents from Greenhorn, Spring Garden and the Highway 70 corridor from Massack to Spring Garden could return home. An advisory remains in place so residents should be prepared to leave should conditions change. Earlier in the day a similar announcement was made for the residents of upper La Porte Road. All are advised to use caution while driving in these areas due to the continued presence of firefighters and equipment.

Sheriff Todd Johns said dispatch was inundated with calls from residents anxious to return home prior to last evening’s announcement. Earlier in the day the Forest Service announced during a briefing to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors that residents would be allowed to return home that evening, but as the hour drew later residents called the sheriff’s office wanting to know when.

Thus far on the Claremont, only one outbuilding has been destroyed (on upper La Porte Road), but no homes have been lost. There are 1,595 personnel assigned to the North Complex, which includes the Claremont, Bear and Sheep Fires. Initially a majority of those resources were assigned to the Sheep, but as that fire winds down, resources are being shifted.

The Claremont Fire broke out Aug. 17 as the result of a lightning strike. It has threatened the communities of East Quincy, La Porte Road, the Highway 70 corridor, Spring Garden, Greenhorn, Cromberg and Sloat. It is part of the North Complex of fires burning on the Plumas National Forest. Below is the most recent evacuation orders for the fire and a map of the fire area.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.




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