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Chips Fire explodes to 27,000 acres; 7% contained

Feather Publishing
8/10/2012
10:00 p.m. update

Critical fire weather produced extreme fire behavior on the Chips Fire’s north and northeast flanks, and posed a challenging day for firefighters. The fire made a major run out of Mosquito Creek towards Butt Valley Reservoir and spotted across the Feather River onto Red Hill.

The Plumas County Sheriff’s Office issued mandatory evacuations for the communities of Rush Creek and Seneca. Additional evacuations may be necessary depending on fire activity.

PG&E transmission lines where shut down to allow for the use of heavy air tankers.Power outages impacted the surrounding communities in Lake Almanor region including portions of Quincy, Chester and Susanville.

 

The Incident Command Post was relocated from East Quincy to the Lake Almanor recreation area to provide better support to firefighters working in the vicinity.

With warm night time temperatures and poor humidity recovery the fire is expected to remain active tonight.Down canyon winds are expected to push smoke south of the fire area into the Sacramento Valley. Due to several days of above normal temperatures and critically dry conditions, a red flag warning has been issued for tomorrow, from 1 pm until 9:00pm Saturday.

The California Department of Transportation is implementing traffic controls along Highway 70 due to safety concerns. Travelersshould check Highway 70 conditions regularly (800-427-ROAD / www.dot.ca.gov).Motorists should expect delays and need to anticipate firefighting personnel and apparatus on the road in the vicinity of the fire.

Smoke will continue to pose health concerns for the public.Residents are encouraged to visit the “Protect Yourself from Smoke” website for smoke protection information at http://www.cdc.gov/Features/Wildfires/. Local air quality conditions and forecasts are available at http://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=airnow.main.

For tips on how to prepare for a potential evacuation and what to do if you are evacuated, residents in and near evacuation areas are encouraged to visit the “Ready, Set, Go” website athttp://www.inciweb.org/incident/article/3052/15480/.

Power Outages:To reportand get updateson power outages please call PG&E’s 24-hour emergency and customer service line: 1-800-743-5002.

Evacuations and Closures:

Mandatory evacuations have been issued for the communities of Rush Creek of Highway 70 and Seneca located approximately 3 miles southwest of Lake Almanor.

Sheriff’s voluntary evacuations are in place for an area south of Highway 89 that includes Butt Valley Reservoir and Humbug Reservoir.Residents between Tobin and Twain on Highway 70 are under a Sheriff’s advisement to begin developing evacuation plans.This area includes Belden, Maggie’s Trailer Park and Little Haven.

Butt Valley Reservoir recreation facilities administered by PG&E (Ponderosa Flat Campground, Cool Springs Campground, Ray Adams Day Use Area and Boat Launch, as well as Yellow Creek Campground) are closed due to the fire.

A hard closure remains in place along Caribou Road from Highway 70 to Butt Lake.Gansner Bar, North Fork, and Queen Lily USFS campgrounds remain closed.The Little Grizzly dispersed camping area and High Lakes OHV area also closed.

Communities west of the fire area including Paradise, Jarbo Gap, and Concow are not threatened at this time.

In the interest of firefighter and public safety, the Plumas and Lassen National Forests have expanded the original closure areas due to the fire’s growth.The closures will remain in place until the area is safe for the public to enter.Please see the Forest Orders and closure maps on InciWeb (address above).Pacific Crest Trail hikers may bypass the affected areaby hiking Highway 70/89 or catching a bus with Plumas Transit to Chester, CA (weekdays only).

Motorists are encouraged to use caution on Highway 70 and Highway 89 due to fire activity and increased fire traffic.

8:00 a.m. update

The Chips Fire continues to burn very actively. The fire is now 20,040 acres and just 16% contained. Yesterday the fire made a number of intense up hill runs and crossed containment lines in two areas.

Click here to see today's map of the Chips Fire. The map shows a 200 acre spot fire outside of containments lines along the northwest flank of the fire. Last night crews aggressively attacked the spot fire south of Grizzly Campground.

There is another spot fire along the north east flank of the fire. This spot fire is east of Mosquito Creek and north of Feather River’s North Fork. Firefighters are evaluating this spot fire and developing a strategy for containment. The spot fire is beyond containment lines but within the contingency lines that are being improved between Butt Lake and Feather River North Fork.

Today Crews will continue to hold and respond to any spot fires on the fire’s north flank. Firefighters will continue to hold and mop-up along the Caribou Road and Highway 70 where the fire has now reached the roadways.

The Yellow Creek to Butt Lake and Humbug Road contingency lines are in place and being improved.

Containment objectives for the Chips Fire are to keep the fire south of Humbug Summit Road, north of Highway 70 and Tobin, west of the Butt Lake transmission lines, and East of Philbrook Reservoir. Crews are stationed in communities along the Feather River Canyon to provide structure protection.

The Incident Command Post is moving from Quincy and will combine with the other camp at Lake Almanor Day Use Area on Highway 89. While we are attempting to maintain phone lines during the move, there may be short periods where phone service is interrupted.

Temperatures will be near 100 degrees with relative humidity in the single digits. Winds are again expected to be out of the southwest and up-canyon by afternoon and will challenge firefighters trying to hold north and northeast containment lines. Fire behavior may be extreme where winds align with canyons and heavy fuels.

There are 1,045 personnel assigned to the Chips Fire. Resources include 18 twenty-person hand crews, 51 fire engines, and 8 helicopters. Suppression costs are estimated to be $8.9 million.


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