Chips Fire 8/21/2012 update

Feather Publishing
9:00 P.M. Update

62,541 acres with 37% containment. 1,174 personnel

Fire Status: As expected, winds today became stronger, averaging twelve to thirteen miles per hour across the fire area, with 24 mile per hour gusts. This resulted in increased fire activity particularly to the east of Butt Valley Reservoir. Large amounts of interior fuels burned, with wind funneling the fire up the North Fork Feather River towards the spillway at Canyon Dam. Several spot fires occurred outside the fire perimeter, across Highway 89. All observed spot fires were contained. Crews and engines will continue to patrol the area tonight, particularly the communities of Canyon Dam, the Big Meadows area, and Prattville, as well as throughout the Seneca area to watch for and extinguish additional spot fires.

Firing operations that were accomplished the past two nights contributed significantly to stopping the fire's spread across Highway 89 and into the Canyon Dam area today. Removing ground fuels at night, under favorable conditions, provided for a reduction of fire behavior when winds materialized today.

Tomorrow, winds are expected to minimize as a dry air mass moves into the area.

In the Red Hill area, the fire became active again today, limiting the extent of planned burnout activities. Minimal firing was conducted, however, in an effort to prevent the fire from moving towards the Red Hill Communications Site.

Along the west flank of the fire, hotshot crews continue to slowly and methodically build fire line directly along the fire's edge, working from north to south towards the Chips Creek drainage. A Wildland Fire Module, which is a specialized crew of ten people trained to work self-sufficiently in the back country for extended periods, was inserted into the south-west area of the fire today. This crew will camp near Morris Lake, and seek opportunities to construct fire line into the Chips Creek drainage working from south to north. A second Wildland Fire Module is expected to arrive tomorrow, and will join the crew currently on-site. Also, infra-red mapping will be conducted tomorrow on this portion of the fire to pin-point hot spots for the crew to focus on extinguishing.

Evacuations and Closures: Per the Plumas County Sheriff's Department, Mandatory Evacuations are in place for the communities of Prattville, Canyon Dam and the Big Meadows area. A Voluntary Evacuation is in place for Almanor. An Advisory is in effect to all West Almanor and East Shore residents (Hwy. 147) advising of the potential threat of the fire to the areas. An evacuation Center is located at the Chester Memorial Hall on Gay Street. Highway 147 was closed earlier today, however, it has been re-opened to all traffic. Highway 89 from Butt Lake Road to 4.3 miles north of Greenville is closed to all traffic due to heavy smoke and a large amount of emergency equipment on the roadway. For more information, please go to: http://www.countyofplumas.com/DocumentCenter/View/8785

Community Meetings: A community meeting will be held tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. at the Lake Almanor West Community Park, 177 Lake Almanor West Drive, Lake Almanor West, CA 96020.

4:45 p.m. update

Highway 89 remains closed to all traffic from Butt Valley Road on the north to 4.3 miles north of Greenville on the south. This road closure is due to heavy smoke limiting visibility and as well as a large amount of emergency equipment moving along the roadway. Please continue to check for updates, as conditions are subject to change.

HIghway 147 is open as of 8 p.m. tonight.

Update: Highway 36 opened sometime during the night of August 21.... It was closed from Paynes Creek Post Office to 2.2 miles west of Mineral due to a wildland fire. Mineral residents were allowed access driving home from the Chester area through the roadblock at the junction of Highway 36 and Highway 32.

1:45 p.m. update

Chips Fire now 52,738 acres
Click here to see the most current Chips Fire map


10:00 a.m. update

Another successful burnout operation was executed last night along the eastern border of Butt Valley Reservoir. This completes a half circle burnout around the active northeast section of the fire in preparation for today's weather which includes strong, gusty winds out of the southwest.

Burnouts from Sunday night have progressed up to two miles into the fire area, meeting objectives to reduce and remove unburned fuels between the head of the fire and neighboring communities. As afternoon winds pick up, firefighters will deepen and reinforce control lines along Highway 89. Engines will also patrol the communities of Prattville, Canyon Dam and Big Meadows to watch for fallout from burning material. Efforts will continue throughout the day to strength control lines from the north end of Butt Valley Reservoir to the burnout line in the Prattville area.

While line construction and mop-up continue from Belden up to Caribou, a small area around Red Hill continues to be an issue for firefighters who will patrol the control line and watch for spot fires.

Aided by smoke in the area from the Pass Fire in Mendocino County, fire activity was low to moderate in the afternoon hours yesterday. This also limited the use of aircraft due to low visibility. With gusty winds expected, the smoke layer should lessen allowing the use of the aircraft that are currently assigned to the incident.

Evacuations and Closures: Highways 89 and 147 have been reopened to all traffic although this is subject to change depending on fire activity. The mandatory evacuation order issued by the Plumas County Sheriff's office is still in place for Canyon Dam, Big Meadows and Prattville. For more information, please see: http://www.countyofplumas.com/DocumentCenter/View/8785

Community Meetings: A community meeting will be held today in Clear Creek Community Park at 6:00 p.m.

Additional Fire Information: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3052/ or call (530) 283-3593 and (530) 283-3288 between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.

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