Farad Fire has charred 747 acres in an area about 12 miles northeast of Truckee
July 13, 2017
Wildfire crews have made significant progress in their battle against a wind-driven blaze that has charred 747 acres in an area about 12 miles northeast of Truckee.
The so-called "Farad Fire," located in the hills above Interstate 80, was 28 percent contained as of Thursday morning, July 13. That was up from 20 percent the previous day.
"Containment has been achieved along portions of the southern and eastern edges of the fire where it is closest to Interstate 80. The increase in acreage is not due to fire growth yesterday (Wednesday, July 12), but from more accurate mapping of the fire," the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Regional Incident Management Team said in a statement on Thursday.
"Fire crews have been making good progress on the fire, securing the fire line and putting out hot spots with the assistance of helicopter water drops.
"Fire activity has decreased, however during the afternoon yesterday (Wednesday) there was an area along the northwest perimeter of the fire with active burning. Fire crews were quick to respond and secure (a) line around the area."
The incident management team noted that fire activity could increase rapidly given the dry conditions, above average temperature, and zephyr winds common to the area.
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Wildfire crews spent a good portion of Thursday building and securing fire lines, and mopping up areas of concentrated heat around the perimeter of the blaze. More than 250 local, state, and federal firefighters were assigned to blaze as of Thursday morning.
The progress afforded authorities the opportunity to open the second westbound lane of I-80 on Wednesday evening. Both eastbound and westbound lanes were closed earlier in the week because of the blaze.
"It is open and there is no intention to close it (I-80) unless the fire does a 180," said California Highway Patrol Officer Pete Mann on Thursday.
He added that traffic was flowing through the affected area on Thursday, which was a much different scenario than earlier in the week.
The heavily traveled thoroughfare was bottled up for most of Tuesday, July 11, because of lengthy closures associated with the wildfire.
The closure of I-80 on Tuesday was largely the result of wind not favorable to fighting the wildfire, said Mann, who was on-scene earlier in the week.
He said the fire made its way "all the way down" to the interstate on Tuesday, after getting within 10 feet on Monday, July 10.
The closure of the eastbound side of I-80 on Tuesday backed up traffic for miles as vehicles were redirected at State Route 267. Travelers hoping to drive into California from Nevada were largely stymied because of the closure of the westbound side of I-80.
John Willard, and his wife were two of those travelers who found themselves stopped in Verdi, Nev. The couple had been traveling and camping in their recreational vehicle when they stopped to stay at Gold Ranch.
They had plans to continue heading west, but were stuck with other people, trying to decide whether to wait it out or find an alternate route.
"We were hoping to make it to a wedding, but now I'm not sure that's going to happen," he said on Tuesday.
Eventually, both sides of I-80 were reopened. The eastbound lanes and one westbound lane were reopened about 2:55 p.m., and by late afternoon the eastbound traffic was moving at a standard pace.
The Farad Fire was reported about 1 p.m. on Monday, July 10, according to incident reports from CAL FIRE and the CHP.
Fueled by winds in excess of 10 mph, the wildfire quickly made its way up the hillside adjacent to I-80. The rapid growth of the fire forced the closure of I-80 westbound near the Nevada state line in mid-afternoon on Monday, July 10.
The eastbound side of I-80 was then shuttered about 4:40 p.m. on Monday, July 10, after a shift in the wind. The closure point was at State Route 267.
"In the interest of public safety, we closed (Interstate 80)," said Mann on Monday.
Both sides of I-80 remained closed until the eastbound lanes were reopened about 6:43 p.m. on Monday. A westbound lane was opened later in the evening.
While the cause of the fire has not been determined, there was a vehicle in the area about the time the blaze started.
The possible sighting was noted in a CHP incident report on Monday.
Reporter Amanda Rhoades contributed to this report. Wyatt Haupt Jr. is the managing editor for the Sierra Sun. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 530-550-2652.