Trail Fire reported in American River Canyon in El Dorado, Placer counties
Mandatory evacuations under way in Foresthill area
American Red Cross opens evacuation center at Foresthill High School
By Cathy Locke | Sacramento Bee
Triple-digit temperatures and steep terrain complicated the initial attack Tuesday on the Trailhead Fire burning in Placer and El Dorado counties near the middle fork of the American River.
As of 6:30 p.m., the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported that the fire had burned 300 acres off Drivers Flat Road near Todd Valley, along the middle fork of the American River in Placer County. According to Daniel Berlant, Cal Fire spokesman, 250 of those acres burned are in El Dorado County.
As of Tuesday night, mandatory evacuations were in effect near Foresthill due to the wildfire, which started at midafternoon in the American River Canyon.
Berlant said the fire started in a remote, rugged area that is "difficult, if not nearly impossible to access." As a result, air tankers and helicopters handled most of the attack. A drone in the area briefly forced the aircraft to land for a while Tuesday night, but they resumed their drops, Berlant said.
More than 250 firefighters are battling the blaze, Berlant said. It was 100 degrees when the fire started, and the heat and dry brush contributed to the fire's spread, he said.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for Vinewood Court, Nugget Drive, Trailhead Court and Green Pine, according to the Placer County Sheriff's Office. Advisory evacuations were in effect on White Tail Court, Alton Trail, Grey Court and Tevis Court.
Foresthill Road was closed at Todd Valley Road, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The American Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at Foresthill High School, 23319 Foresthill Road.
"Right now our volunteers are making sure that these families have an immediate, safe place to go," said Tami Martin, Red Cross disaster program manager, in a written statement Tuesday night. "Our disaster teams are ready to provide lodging, hot meals, water, hygiene items, health services, and comfort for anyone impacted by this growing fire."
Beginning at 10 p.m., the evacuation center will turn into an evacuation shelter, according to the American Red Cross.
Large animals can be brought to the Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High St., in Auburn, the Sheriff's Office reported.
Dena Erwin, spokeswoman for the Placer County Sheriff's Office, said the fire began on the El Dorado County side of the river before spreading to Placer County.
Although the fire did not immediately threaten the Todd Valley residences, Berlant said the evacuation was ordered because there is only one route in and out of the subdivision. If the fire broke through the fire line, he said, it could race up the hill and threaten homes.
As of 9 p.m., El Dorado County Sheriff's officials said fire activity in their county had greatly diminished and no evacuations were in effect there.
Meanwhile, firefighters battled the 350-acre Rancho Fire on grazing pasture land off Highway 104 near Michigan Bar Road, west of Ione, said Brice Bennett, Cal Fire spokesman. He described it as a running fire that burned along the highway. The fire was largely out by 6:45 p.m., Bennett said, noting that crews were mopping up hot spots.
No homes or other structures were threatened.
As crews extinguished the Rancho Fire, Bennett said he could see the Trailhead Fire from his location on Highway 104.
Read my blog at http://eclecticarcania.blogspot.com/
My Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/derkimster
Linkedin profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/kim-noyes/9/3a1/2b8
Follow me on Twitter @CalDisasters