Fires in Nevada, Placer counties are lower priority
GRASS VALLEY More than 1,000 wildfires raging in California have created competition for resources to battle the blazes choking Nevada, Sierra and Placer counties, and a fire official Wednesday said an air inversion layer will have to lift before smoky conditions improve.Were competing for resources, said Carlton Joseph, Incident Commander for the Yuba River Complex of fires in Nevada and Sierra counties. On Wednesday, only 295 firefighters had been assigned to the complex because fire crews are at a premium.The commander was hoping for additional crews by this morning, but it was unclear whether they would arrive. The American River Complex near Auburn was sixth on the priority list for Northern California and the Yuba River Complex seventh, Joseph said, because other fires in the state are threatening more homes, power lines and infrastructure than those here.You staff what you can on (fires) that represent the greatest threat, Joseph said.Meanwhile, outdoor physical activity should be avoided today in Nevada and Placer counties as an air quality alert continues, with smoke from area fires and high ozone levels causing the worst air readings here in 15 years.The smoky conditions are making it hard for firefighters to see where and when to attack numerous blazes in the region, Joseph said.Until the air clears, we wont be able to fly to see whats going on or to bomb the fires with retardant and water, he said. We cant map the fires because of the smoke, but were scheduled for an infra-red flight tonight, which will give us a handle on where the fires are and what theyre doing, Joseph added.
The Yuba River Complex grew slightly to 2,095 acres and is 10 percent contained, said Larry Schmidt at the fire command center at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley. Three firefighters have suffered minor injuries, but no structures have been lost.Progress was made on the 500-acre Scotchman Fire Wednesday as a new fire line was established on the western flank, blocking it from entering the town of Washington, which sits off Highway 20 between Nevada City and Interstate 80, Schmidt said. Firefighters went in Tuesday night to take advantage of better conditions; Joseph said he was confident the line would hold.Bowman Lake Road is closed for anyone other than residents with identification because of the 1,300-acre Fall Fire.Meanwhile, the American River Complex near Auburn continues to burn on about 1,250 acres and another 4,500 acres are burning in Plumas County.The National Weather Service in Sacramento said there is a slight chance of thunderstorms and more lightning strikes Saturday and Saturday night like the ones that caused last weekends rash of blazes to break out across the state.The Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District continued the alert they issued Tuesday through today, after a pall of smoke continued to hang over Nevada County.