California fires: Windy weather triggers Sierra red flag warning

As more El Dorado residents return to their homes and neighborhoods as evacuation orders are lifted, teams fighting the Caldor fire are working to strengthen containment lines ahead of the outbreaks. weekend winds.

In an update on the Saturday morning incident, US Forest Service officials said increased winds were expected from overnight and continuing through Sunday morning, with gusts of up to 45 mph at the top of the ridges.

“Firefighters continued to work to strengthen control and containment lines on Friday ahead of a predicted change in weather conditions,” the forest service said. “Crews continue to build handlines and conduct clean-up operations in the Desolation Wilderness, Convict Meadow and Lake Margaret areas in an effort to secure the edge of the blaze.”

The National Weather Service’s Sacramento office forecasts southwest winds with gusts of about 15 to 20 mph at Placerville and about 35 to 40 mph at South Lake Tahoe. Light rains could accompany the winds, with up to a quarter of an inch of precipitation forecast for Kyburz.

Sacramento should see less than a tenth of an inch of rain, if any.

Due to windy conditions and increased fire danger, the Weather Service issued a red flag warning for areas northeast of South Lake Tahoe – which were allowed to repopulate earlier this month – mainly in Nevada, but also in the eastern half of Lassen County. and the very eastern edge of Modoc County.

A fire weather watch was also issued for parts of the Sacramento Valley and Sierra Nevada, including the central areas of Placer and El Dorado counties. The fire weather watch will take effect at 11 p.m. Sunday and will last until 11 a.m. Tuesday.

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A weather service map displays a red flag warning and weather watch for fires due to take effect Sunday evening. National Meteorological Service

Crews are also working to remove trees and repair fire-damaged infrastructure along Highway 50, which remains closed between Kyburz and Meyers, and are working along the Mormon Emigrant Trail before it reopens.

The Forest Service released a statement Friday evening explaining to the public that although it appears that “fire is no longer an imminent threat along corridor (of highway) 50”, the highway remains closed due public safety issues “such as dangerous trees, electrical wires, damaged and dangerous poles and other things that could cause serious injury or death.

The Caldor fire burned 218,876 acres, and although it is 71% contained, Forest Service officials said 5,465 structures remain at risk. The fire saw a decline in activity for several days. Since South Lake Tahoe evacuation orders were lifted on September 5, the blaze has only spread over about 3,000 acres.

Recently, crews were able to conduct clean-up operations up to 300 feet inside the fire, according to the Forest Service. Authorities expect full containment on September 27.

The fire destroyed 782 homes, 18 commercial buildings and 203 other minor structures, according to the Forest Service. The town of Grizzly Flats suffered extensive damage in mid-August, including the loss of several homes, an elementary school, a church and a post office, as the Caldor fire burned down in El Dorado County without being overpowered.

Grizzly Flats were fully reopened by county officials on Friday, even as residents re-populated. Residents had been able to re-enter the city from last week with permits and proof of residence, but now all restrictions have been lifted.

Dixie Fire

The eastern area of ​​the Dixie fire in Lassen County falls under a red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service in effect until Saturday.

Crews working on the Dixie Fire, which burned 960,641 acres and is 88% contained, said increased winds in the area could make conditions more difficult.

“These winds have the potential to make the fire more active, by testing the containment lines,” Forest Service officials wrote in an update on Saturday morning.

Although rain is expected on Saturday afternoon along with gusts of wind to 35mph, the forest service said it wouldn’t be enough to make a big difference.

“While any rush is welcome, the expected amounts will not extinguish the fire but may alleviate some hot spots,” officials said in the morning update of the incident. “As the potential for fire activity increases due to high winds, the focus today will be on strengthening and maintaining wind-tested containment lines, as well as maintaining patrols throughout. the perimeter of the fire and the cleaning of the lines. “

Crews on the west side of the blaze are also preparing for winds of up to 25 mph and have prepared additional resources near West Prospect Peak ahead of potentially increased activity in the area.

The Dixie Fire, the second largest wildfire in California history, began on July 13. Earlier this week, victims sued Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for damage caused by the fire. Cal Fire is investigating whether the Dixie Fire was triggered by the PG&E equipment.

In August, the blaze passed through the town of Greenville, destroying much of it.

PNK Complex

The KNP complex, on fire in Sequoia National Park in Tulare County, threatens the giant trees that gave the park its name.

The Fresno Bee reported on Saturday morning that the two fires included in the complex, the Colony Fire and the Paradise Fire, have merged to create a single unconfined blaze of approximately 18,000 acres. Some of the trees in the park have been wrapped in a special type of fire-resistant foil in an effort to protect some of the tallest trees in the world. The famous General Sherman redwood, which is the largest single-stemmed living tree, is among those that have been wrapped for protection along the base.

The Giant Forest Grove, where General Sherman is located, is threatened by the spread of the fire. The resort is expected to burn east into the Giant Forest over the weekend, according to The Fresno Bee. One of the main concerns for fire crews battling the blaze is that the scars from burns on trees could ignite, potentially allowing the fire to burn inside a tree, killing it.

Additionally, fire crews are working to protect the town of Three Rivers, located near Highway 198 and the Kaweah River, as well as other nearby communities.

The KNP complex was triggered by lightning on September 9.

The Fresno bee contributed to this story.

This story was originally published September 18, 2021 12:28 pm.

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Vincent Moleski covers the latest news for The Bee and is a graduate student of literature at Sacramento State. He was born and raised in Sacramento and previously wrote for the college student newspaper, the State Hornet.

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