Wildfire updates: Mosquito Fire jumps American River, burns into El Dorado County

The Mosquito Fire jumped off the middle fork of the American River on Thursday, raging south into El Dorado County, while continuing to burn near the Placer County community of Foresthill.

Evacuation orders are in effect for El Dorado County’s Volcanic Zone and Tunnel Hill areas from Wednesday morning, and were expanded to include the Quintet, Bald Mountain, Gray Eagle Hill and Battle Hill areas on Thursday afternoon.

According to radio dispatched traffic, the crew were working after 1:30 p.m. to de-energize power lines along Volcanic Road after a fire broke out on the El Dorado side of the river.

Radio traffic indicated that firefighters were responding to the fire on the south side of Volcanic Road.

Officials are urging those in Wocanoville who have not yet done so to evacuate. About 250 people live in Volcanoville and another 100 in Quintette.

“If you need extra time, consider leaving before the evacuation order is given,” the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post after 1 p.m.

All Foresthill, a town of 1,500 people, and nearby communities, including Michigan Bluff, have been under a mandatory evacuation order from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office beginning Wednesday afternoon.

Placer County declared a local emergency for mosquito fires at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

The aircraft mapped mosquito fires over 8,625 acres, or more than 13 square miles, as of 1:30 p.m. in a 7 a.m. update from the Cal Fire and Forest Service. It is 0% implied.

Nolan Hale, chief of Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer operations section, said at an afternoon video briefing that the fire is “moving west toward Foresthill, as well as actively burning in the northeast”.

The fire spread over thousands of acres on Wednesday, Threatening homes and sending smoke to large areas of Northern California.

Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer unit said mosquito fires are threatening more than 1,000 structures, including critical infrastructure. Infrastructure at risk included the Sugar Pine Dam, the Placer County Water Agency’s pump stations and dams, large power lines, the Ralston Hydroelectric power station and cellphone towers.

Fire officials said the wildfire, one of several major fires burning amid a record-breaking September heat wave in drought-stricken California, is burning severely in dry brush and wood.

The fire displayed “extreme” behavior throughout the day on Wednesday and more than quadrupled in size during the day, fire officials said in the incident report, after a fire broke out in a steep area near Oxbow Reservoir in the Tahoe National Forest on Tuesday evening. Later, the hill of the forest spreading rapidly to the northwest.

Forresthill, a town of about 1,500 people, was ordered by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office to evacuate on Wednesday afternoon, along with the immediate surrounding communities in Placer County. Parts of the volcano in El Dorado County were also placed under mandatory evacuation orders.

An evacuation center remains open at Bell Road Baptist Church, 77 Bell Road, Auburn. A temporary center set up Wednesday at Cool Community Church in El Dorado County closed that evening, officials said.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company said in a filing to state regulators Thursday morning that “electrical activity occurred close to the reported time of the fire” at one of its transmission poles near Oxbow Reservoir.

“(Forest Service) has placed caution tape around the base of the PG&E transmission pole (60 kV),” PG&E officials wrote in a filing to the California Public Utilities Commission. “So far, PG&E has not observed any damage or abnormal conditions to our facilities near Pole or Oxbow Reservoir, conductors or any vegetation related issues in the area.”

The utility company, which has been held criminally responsible for sparking the 2018 Camp Fire in Paradise and whose equipment was determined to be the cause of last year’s nearly million-acre Dixie Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills, wrote that She presented Thursday’s filing with an abundance of caution,” including an electrical incident “an event that may meet property damage reporting requirements.”

The cause of the mosquito fire is being investigated by Cal Fire and the Forest Service.

Crews near Foresthill are “aware of structure damage in the Michigan Bluff area,” according to Cal Fire’s Thursday morning incident report, but the extent of the damage was not immediately clear. Cal Fire said the damage was not inspected due to unsafe conditions.

Cal Fire said about 1,700 personnel have been pressed into the fire.

For much of Wednesday the Mosquito fire produced a pyrocumulus cloud – a giant smoke similar to a volcanic eruption. The plume can be seen from the Sacramento area, other neighboring Northern California counties, and parts of western Nevada.

By Thursday morning, hazy skies settled over Sacramento as winds blew smoke into the region, but by afternoon more pyrocumulus smoke emerged as the fire moved into El Dorado County.

As of 9 a.m., parts of Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties, including Folsom, El Dorado Hills, Granite Bay, Orangewell, El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park, recorded air pollution at “alarming” levels above 200 AQI, according to an online it was done. Air quality map from the Environmental Protection Agency. Pollution reached “very unhealthy” levels near Auburn, Newcastle and Penrin and “unhealthy” levels near Roseville, Carmichael, Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova.

According to the map, air quality within Sacramento city limits remained at “moderate” levels.

According to the National Weather Service, heavy smoke was also expected to blow east toward Lake Tahoe.

mosquito fire map

This live-updating map shows the location of Mosquito fires near Foresthill, with satellite heat detection data for the hot spots. Click on the legend button for more information.

Sources: US Department of the Interior, IRWIN, NIFC, NASA, NOAA and Esri

The Forest Service announced Wednesday evening that a large portion of the Tahoe National Forest, including the French Meadows Reservoir and the popular Western State Trail, will be closed to the public until at least the end of 2022.

The closed trail is the site of the annual Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, which begins in Olympic Valley and ends in Auburn. The race was run in June this year.

Barnes Fire in Modoc County

The Barnes Fire, a fire that broke out Wednesday in Modoc County, grew to 1,621 acres.

The Modoc County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation warning for the communities of Willow Ranch and Fort Bidwell, which remained in place through Thursday morning.

Modoc National Forest officials said in an update Thursday morning that the fire increased at least through the night, but fire activity is expected to increase as fire conditions worsen.

Coyote Fire in Siskiyou County

A new vegetation fire broke out in Siskiyou County on Wednesday, Cal Fire said, stopping further progress on just 300 acres.

The coyote fire was burning along Coyote Ridge about 10 miles southwest of the city of Doris, Cal Fire’s Siskiyou unit said Thursday morning.

All evacuation warnings have been lifted on the fire, which was reported in 297 acres with 20% containment.

Mill and mountain fire in Siskiyou County

The Mill Fire, which killed two people and leveled dozens of homes in its initial explosive run near Weed last week, held up with 75% control across 3,935 acres as of Wednesday evening.

Crews have completed the damage assessment and determined that 92 buildings were destroyed and 17 others were damaged. Two women, aged 73 and 66, were killed and three other civilians were injured, officials said.

Mandatory evacuation orders continued for parts of the Lake Shastina community, where homes were damaged and destroyed. Evacuation orders within the city of Weed have been removed or downgraded to warnings.

Roseberg Forest Products, which operates a mill in Weed, admitted Wednesday that it was investigating whether a malfunctioning sprinkler system allowed smoldering ash from an on-site power plant to ignite the mill fire. .

Cal Fire’s Siskiyou unit said in a 7 a.m. update on Thursday that the Mountain Fire remained on 11,690 acres and was now contained 45%. Minimal fire activity was observed overnight, but gusts of up to 25 mph are expected to continue through Thursday. Two structures were destroyed, and about a dozen residents were placed under evacuation orders.

Fairview Fire in Riverside County

The deadly Fairview Fire in Southern California increased in intensity on Wednesday, with Cal Fire reporting acreage increasing from 9,846 acres at 7 p.m. to 18,657 acres as of 7 a.m. Thursday.

The fire ignited on Monday and is burning near Hemet, where mandatory evacuation remains. As of Thursday morning it was threatening about 2,500 structures.

Cal Fire said the fire remained active on its eastern, southern and northern sides on Wednesday.

Two civilians have been killed and another injured in the Fairview Fire.

Like Placer County’s Mosquito Fire, the Fairview Fire produced a large pyrocumulus cloud on Wednesday.

This story was originally published 8 September 2022 at 8:52 am.

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Michael McGoff is the anchor of The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, which covers public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capitalist, she interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where she earned a degree in journalism.

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