Jones Fire containment expected Friday: Lightning caution cause of pushback

Elias Funez
Multimedia Reporter

Full containment of the Jones Fire has been pushed back to later this week, according to Cal Fire officials.

“We still have two engines out there busting out root balls and that sort of thing,” Cal Fire public information officer Mary Eldridge said Tuesday. “Thinking probably more like Friday.”

Another round of thunderstorms with the possibility of dry lightning was a factor in pushing out the containment date, initially expected Tuesday.

“We were seriously cautious about the lightning. So we kept them out there just to make sure,” Eldridge said of the firefighters. “They keep covering the footprint of the fire. There were a lot of hazard trees.”

The Jones Fire was determined to be caused by lightning strike on the morning of Aug. 17 in the Jones Bar area of the South Yuba River Canyon, about a mile southwest of the Highway 49 bridge. As flames quickly fanned up the ridge, evacuations of Newtown began as firefighters on the ground and in the sky fought to keep the flames from reaching Grass Valley and Nevada City.

During the height of the air attack on Day 1, a total of seven air tankers — 88, 89, 90, 94, 100, and two single-engine air tankers — pounded away on the Jones Fire. With the help of ground crews at the Grass Valley Interagency Air Attack Base, a record 94,826 gallons of Phos-Chek retardant was pumped on Day 1 of the fire. On Day 2, 65,162 gallons were dropped, with 173,323 gallons of total retardant used on the Jones incident.

A pair of single-engine air tankers en route to Chester had been grounded at the air attack base the night of Aug. 16 due to the lightning storm. By morning, when the lightning storm had caused the Jones incident, the pair of air tankers was able to lend a hand.

“It was fortunate for us that they were here,” Cal Fire Battalion Chief David Krussow said. “It gave us additional resources.”

As of Tuesday, the Jones Fire remained at 76% containment.

To date the fire has burned; 705 acres of public and private property; 14 homes, numerous outbuildings including six barns; and near complete destruction of the Independence Trail’s wooden structures.

Assessment of the damage to the iconic all-access trail has been ongoing by organizations, including State Parks and the Bear Yuba Land Trust.

“Repair begins with documentation of the damage,” Eldridge said. “State Parks was in there today with Bear Yuba Land Trust.”

To contact Multimedia Reporter Elias Funez email, or call 530-477-4230.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.