Firefighters make gains in northeast Sierra Nevada blaze |

Firefighters make gains in northeast Sierra Nevada blaze

GREENVILLE, Calif. (AP) ” Firefighters reported progress late Friday in combating a wildfire that has blackened a swath of remote forest in the northeast Sierra Nevada.

The 31,294-acre blaze in Plumas County was mostly contained on its southern side, but winds were still making holding the lines a challenge, said Rich Phelps, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “But we’ve made tremendous progress,” he said by telephone Friday evening.

Phelps said no more homes had been evacuated beyond the roughly 100 that had already been emptied. But officials had evacuated campgrounds near Antelope Lake.

The official proportion of the fire contained was 16 percent, up from 8 percent early Friday.

Officials earlier in the day credited light winds for allowing firefighters to be aggressive on the attack.

Ten helicopters and three air tankers were blasting the flames with fire retardants, and performing surveillance, officials said. Eight more aircraft were on order, and some 1,900 firefighters were deployed.

But significant obstacles remained before fire crews could declare victory.

“The weather is dangerous, but so is the steep terrain and extremely dry fuel, some of the driest in history,” said Mark Beaulieu, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire is burning about 150 miles north of Sacramento and 230 miles northeast of San Francisco, and has spawned a blanket of smoky haze that reached both cities.

A second Northern California wildfire, burning in Henry W. Coe State Park south of San Jose, stood at 37,660 acres late Friday and was 45-percent contained, said Erik Cohen, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

No evacuations were planned, and firefighters had about 16 miles of fire lines left to build, Cohen said.

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