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   These are a few of the stories you will find in this week's printed newspaper:
  • Ebola preparedness: Could a deadly virus with its roots in West Africa find its way to Plumas County? The county’s three hospitals are preparing, just in case.
  • Candidates speak: With elections just days away, candidates for local public offices took part in forums and submitted answers to questions from the newspaper.
  • Remembering Grace: The family of an FRC student who died earlier this month said they were overwhelmed by the community’s support after the college held a vigil to remember their daughter.

Two large fires burning out of control in Lassen County

7/30/2010 Update:

Constantia Fire:  The fire is now 100 percent contained.  Most suppression resources have been released.   The few remaining crews will continue to patrol and rehab fire lines.  Some smoke may still be visible from the interior of the burned area. This will be the last update unless significant new fire activity occurs.

7/29/2010 Update:

Constantia Fire: The 1,369 acre Constantia Complex is 73 percent contained. Firefighters continue making progress at mopping-up 500 feet inside the fire perimeter. Dozer and hand lines are being repaired while damage to some dirt roads from fire traffic is also being repaired.


Hot and dry weather conditions are forecast today as firefighters will continue detecting any remaining hot spots on the fire.

 Some fire fighting resources will be moved to other fires today. However, sufficient resources will remain for any new starts that may be found. Air tankers are also available in the area, should they be needed.


Eight hand crews, four engines, one dozer, one water tender, and two helicopters remain assigned to the fire for a total of approximately 320 firefighters.

Agencies providing resources include Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire, California Highway Patrol, Bureau of Indian Affairs, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Lassen County as well as private contractors.

Other California Fires:

West Fire, Kern County Southeast of Tehachapi

* 1,436 acres of timber, 25% contained

* 35 structures have been destroyed and 150 residences and 500 commercial properties are still threatened
* Expected containment on July 30

Russell Complex, Lassen County
East of Straylor Lake
* 100 acres of timber, 100% contained

Bull Fire, Kern County
USFS – Sequoia National Forest / Kern County Fire
Outside Kernville
* 16,074 acres - 12% contained
* Expected containment August 10

McDonald Fire, Lassen County

BLM – Northern California District
3 miles northeast of Termo
* 7000 acres - 10% contained
* Expected containment August 2

For the latest statewide fire map:click here.

To watch the latest CAL FIRE situation report video: click here.

7/28/2010 Update:

Weather Forecast: A LOW PASSING THROUGH NORTHEAST CALIFORNIA WILL BRING DRY THUNDERSTORMS TO THE AREA THROUGH THIS MORNING. BEHIND THE LOW...A DRIER AND STABLE SOUTHWEST FLOW WILL DEVELOP THIS AFTERNOON. THIS WILL BRING DECREASING SURFACE HUMIDITY...POOR RECOVERIES ON MID AND UPPER SLOPES...AND THE POTENTIAL FOR BREEZY AFTERNOON AND EVENING WINDS THROUGH THE END OF THE WEEK. ...RED FLAG WARNING IN EFFECT UNTIL 11 AM PDT THIS MORNING FOR DRY THUNDERSTORMS AND GUSTY OUTFLOW WINDS...

Constantia Fire: Good progress was made Tuesday in the containment of the 1,495 acre Constantia Fire Complex near Doyle, CA.

Constantia Fire

Flames from the Constantia Fire can be seen from Constantia Road, near Highway 395.

The two fires making up the 1,495 acre Constantia Complex are 60 percent contained. One fire has been mapped at 1,414 acres and the other has been mapped at 81 acres.

Today, firefighters will continue mop-up and begin to rehabilitate dozer lines as well maintaining readiness for potential new fire starts.

Resources include 12 hand crews, seven engines, one dozer, one water tender, seven helicopters and air attack for a total of 450 firefighters. Air tankers are also available in the area, should they be needed.

John Kidd, Incident Commander of the team brought in to manage the fire said; “The folks working on this fire put in a long hard day and the results are showing. We’re not done, but if the weather holds we’ll continue to make good progress.”

The Constantia Fire began on Saturday evening July 24 as a dry lightning storm passed through starting several fires in the Diamond Mountains.

Other Lassen County Fires: The McDonald Fire, one of more than 80 lightning fires ignited since Saturday, has burned about 750 acres on McDonald Mountain, about three miles northeast of Termo in northeast Lassen County.

The Susanville Interagency Fire Center said 275 personnel had been assigned to the blaze this morning. It was 15 percent contained by fire lines, with full containment predicted for Friday,July 30.

There are no structures threatened. The fire is threatening critical habitat for sage grouse, an upland bird whose populations are closely monitored by wildlife specialists.

Last night’s weather allowed fire crews to continue to strengthen control lines on the Russell Complex. Today, most resources will be released to return to their home units and/or be reassigned to other fires within the state. Remaining resources will patrol the fires checking for any hot spots within the fire’s interior. Tomorrow, crews will begin the fire rehab process: removing fire hose, trash and beginning to return the land to its natural state.

 

Crews are also continuing to respond to fire reports in the wake of four days of thunderstorms across northern California.

Fire officials urged area residents and visitors to be extremely careful with fire any time they are outdoors. Campfires should be doused until they are cold to touch, vehicles should be driven only on established roads and firewood cutters should ensure that their chainsaws have spark arresters in good working condition.

Additionally, officials asked drivers to be alert for fire engines, crew buses and equipment transport trucks on highways and secondary roads as fire crews move to reported fires.

7/27/2010 Update:

Weather Forescast: ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS ARE POSSIBLE TODAY AND INTO TONIGHT AS THE MOIST SOUTH FLOW CONTINUES OVER THE AREA. SOME STORMS MAY TURN DRY LATE THIS EVENING AND EARLY TONIGHT OVER THE NORTHERN SIERRA AND PLUMAS NF. A DRIER AND STABLE SOUTHWEST FLOW SHOULD REACH THE AREA BY THURSDAY WITH DECREASING SURFACE HUMIDITY AND BREEZY LATE AFTERNOON AND EVENING WINDS.

Constantia Fire: The three fires making up the 1,700 acre Constantia Complex are 51 percent contained. Resources include 15 handcrews, eight engines, two dozers, two water tenders, eight helicopters and air attack for a total of 354 firefighters.

Today firefighters will continue structure protection, conduct structure assessments (for what?), develop contingency plans in the event of winds (or additional lightning?), secure fireline and begin to mop-up 500 feet from the fire perimeter to provide (?) In order to determine a more accurate fire size, a flight to GPS the fire perimeter will also take place this morning.

One house, several outbuildings and vehicles were burned on July 25. One firefighter suffered a burned hand; no other injuries have been reported.

The fires were started by lightning on July 24 near the Constantia Road area of Long Valley, 5 miles south of Doyle, California and are burning in grass, brush and timber.

Kidd’s Type 2 Incident Command Team assumed management of the Constantia Fire Complex last night.

Representatives from various local, state and federal agencies are assisting.

The public is encouraged to drive with extra caution along highway 395 due to fire traffic is in the area.


 

Russell Complex: Crews were able to make good progress on the Russell Complex yesterday. The Russell Complex includes nine fires burning in timber, juniper and brush. Warm temperatures, gusty winds and rugged terrain challenged firefighting efforts, but resources were able to hold the fires at 250 acres. Yesterday’s thunderstorms caused more fires which were quickly controlled by air and ground resources. One of those was the Paul Fire that was discovered last night and contained.

Firefighters will work today to establish and strengthen control lines and patrol the area for any new fires. In addition to the resources on the fire line, fire personnel and equipment are staged in various locations throughout the county, ready to respond to any new fire starts.

Plumas National Forest Fires: A lightning event moved through eastern Plumas County over the weekend creating a handful of mostly small fires, from 1/10 to ¼ acre in size. Two fires, Meadow View and Gulch, were 15 and 103 acres. Three additional small fires (0.10 to .25 acres) were detected yesterday. Locations of the fires are on the eastern portion of the Plumas National Forest. All fires are contained and holding and continue to be patrolled.

July 26, 2010 — Update: The Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center is reporting that three structures were lost to the Constantia Fire Complex on Sunday, July 25, with some outbuildings and parked vehicles lost on private land. On Sunday, July 25, winds also blew the fire further southwest into Plumas National Forest.the fire is still estimated at 1,700 acres and is still 10 percent contained. Structure protection engines are in place, and the Lassen County Sheriff's Office still has an evacuation warning in effect. For more detailed information on the evacuation, call 257-5161. Click below for more information about the fire.

The recent lighting storms resulted in over 6,000 lightning strikes in California.

 

Update: The Susanville Interagency Fire Center is reporting that since Saturday, July 24, it has responded to 62 small fires in Lassen County. the two largest fires include the Constantia Complex, located along Highway 395 near Doyle, Calif., and the second largest is the Russell Fire, near Russell Dairy Spring in an area southwest of Little Valley. The Constantia Complex, which is being handled by the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center, has burned more than 1,800 acres and is listed at about 30 percent contained. SFIDC officials have said there is no estimate on when the complex might be contained. A Type 2 Incident command team is expected to take over control of the incident on Tuesday, July 27.

The Russell Fire has burned more than 200 acres so far with no containment. About 200 fire personnel, 13 fire engines, six bulldozer crews, seven water tenders and a helicopter have been assigned to the fire.

Weather conditions are still extreme enough to allow for aggressive fire behavior, as crews focus on structure protection and the strengthening of fire lines.The National Weater Service out of Reno, Nev. is calling for possible thunderstorms in Lassen County throughout the day.

Keep checking lassennews.com for updates on county fire updates as they become available.

July 25, 2010Update: While many resources are being dispatched to handle the Constantia Fire near Doyle, the recent lightning activity has caused dozens of smaller fires in outlying areas around Lassen County, according to Susanville Interagency Fire Center Public Information Officer Jeff Fontana.

As of 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 25, Fontana said there are roughly 56 lightning-caused fires in across several areas of SIFC's jurisdiction district. The largest of the fires is currently bheing labed as "3-9," a roughly 50-acre fire located approximately 15 miles northwest of Eagle Lake. Fontana said an incident command team has been assigned to the fire and should be seting up resources as of 8 a.m. on Monday, July 26.

As for the other fires in the region, Fontana said there are currently five being addressed by the Cal Fire personnel assigned to Susanville, 17 being handled by Cal Fire units near Bieber, and one by Cal Fire units in Alturas.

On the Lassen National Forest side, seven fires are being dealt with in the Hat Creek Ranger District, three in the Eagle Lake Ranger District and five in the LNF's Lake Almanor District.

The Bureau of Land Management's West Valley District has also reported 13 fires, with two fires seen in the Ravendale area.

July 25, 2010Update: While air support efforts on the Constantia Fire have ramped up, the overall containment is now at unknown percentage, according to information from the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center as of 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, July 25.

Christie Kalkowski with Sierra Front Information confirmed the fire is still estimated at about 800 acres.

Currently, SFIDC is coordinating several air units to help combat the blaze. Kalkowski the center currently has six lead planes/air attack planes in the air coordinating drop efforts. Two airtankers are also at the scene, including a heavy tanker capable of dropping 2,000 gallons of water or retardant and a single engine tanker capable of dropping 400 gallons. They also have two helitankers in the air capable of dropping 1,500 gallons and a Type 2 helicopter capable of a 500 gallon drop.

Keep checking lassennews.com for more updates on county fire activity as it becomes available.

July 25, 2010Update: As of 2:56 p.m. on Sunday, July 25, The Constantia Fire is being reported at 800 acres in size. The Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center is reporting the fire has moved Southeast to the flats, and is actively burning within railroad facilities. The evacuation order is still in effect for Constantia.

Fires that originated in front of the primary blaze caused have caused rapid rates of spread, pushing the fire from the Lassen National Forest onto the Plumas National Forest.

SFIDC is reporting extreme fire behavior predicted throughout the day, with abundant lightning predicted around the core of the storm area.

A SFIDC press release said there is a red flag warning is in effect through the evening. Heavy lightning is expected, with strong, gusty outflow winds and thunderstorms becoming stronger and wetter throughout the Sierra Front.

The press release said fire personnel will be actively engaged in structure protection, patrolling and handline construction throughout the day.

Roughly 160 fire personnel are assigned to the fire as of right now, with 10 engines, two water tenders, two bulldozer crews, five hand crews and five command staff.

Responding agencies include fire resources from the Susanville Interagency Fire Center, The U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire, and the Nevada Division of Forestry.

Keep checking lassenews.com for more updates on county fire activity as it becomes available.

Original Post: Lightning storms have caused fire activity in several parts of Lassen County, leaving local and state fire agencies working hard to contain multiple fires.

The largest of the fires is the Constantia Fire, located in the Constantia community near Doyle along Highway 395. The fire started about 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 24, the fire was roughly 400 acres in size. According to the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center, the Constantia residential area is threatened, with Lassen County fire personnel in place for structure protection. SFIDC is also reporting that so far, one residence and at least two out buildings have been lost. The fire is currently about 30 percent contained. The Lassen County Sheriff's Office is reporting that an evacuation order is in effect. For more information on the evacuation order, call 257-6121.

SIFC Co-Center Manager Scott Henry said the center has committed five engines with four strike teams to the Constantia Fire. He said that due to the lightning, fire activity has also been reported in the Hat Creek, Bieber and Lake Almanor communities. He said SIFC fire agencies are responding to various fires of different sizes. He added SIFC is currently in the Lightning Plan, which allows for rapid, measured responses to any reported fire.

Keep checking lassennews.com for more updates on county fire activity as it becomes available.


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