Oroville Mercury-Register

Highway 44 reopens; fire spreads north

- By Riley Blake rblake@chicoer.com

As the fire continues to grow in size, Highway 44 from Old Station to Highway 36 is reopening.

Further evacuation orders have been lowered to warnings in Plumas County. This includes Humbug Road from the intersecti­on of the Humbug-Humboldt Road west to the Butte County line and everything south of the Humbug Road. It also includes Highway 36 south to the west side of Highway 89 including Mud Lake, Soldiers Meadows and Shanghai Creek area, south to Humbug Road and west to the Butte County line.

Evacuation orders have also been lowered to warnings for the Highway 89 and Highway 36 Junction, north along Stover Mountain Road to the county line, west from Highway 89 and Highway 36 Junction along the south side of the highway to the county line.

New Lassen County evacuation orders have been issued for Milford and Herlong area east (lake side) of Highway 395 from the Thunder Mountain Road intersecti­on south to County Road A26 and Garnier Road. This includes the south side of County Road A25 east. It does not include Sierra Army Depot.

Additional evacuation orders have been released for Herlong area north of County Road A25 from Long Valley Creek east to Pole Line Road.

In Butte County, all evacuation warnings have been lowered.

Containmen­t of the fire has risen four percent from Monday to a containmen­t of 52 percent.

The fire grew an additional 24,125 acres Wednesday Cal Fire reported, bringing the total acres burnt to 844,081 acres.

Five more structures were reported as destroyed to due the fire bringing the total to 1,282. The total number of damaged structures is still 92. There are 14,206 structures threatened by the fire. Structures threatened rose by 592 since Tuesday.

East zone

In the east zone, Cal Fire reported progressio­n in the Grizzly Ridge and Ward Creek area between east Quincy and the 2019 Walker Fire scar as well as northerly to the east of the Walker Fire scar.

On Tuesday, crews actively engaged the fire along Queens Creek Road with air and ground resources attempting to stop the spread but crews couldn’t completely halt forward movement. Cal Fire reported spot fires across the road and rough conditions made operations difficult for crews. The fire continued progressin­g roughly two miles to the east and north in alignment with the wind, terrain and fuel. Fire behavior prediction­s indicate a continued push towards Highway 395 to the east aided by southwest winds. Crews will work Wednesday to keep fire south and west of Last Chance drainage in cooperatio­n with Cal Fire Team 1.

Crews are also continuing to focus on extending dozer lines down Grizzly Ridge and tie into the shore of Lake Davis to direct the fire away from the Highway 70 corridor as well as from Lake Davis to Clover Valley to keep fire from spreading south.

Structure protection remains in place within Genesee, Taylorsvil­le, Greenhorn and Cromberg.

West zone

In the west zone, crews continue to establish direct and indirect containmen­t lines south of Old Station. Resources continue to establish containmen­t lines to hold the Highway 44 corridor. Crews are expected to complete contingenc­y lines both north and south of Janesville and Milford. While the Union Pacific Fire Train continues to protect critical infrastruc­ture, aircraft will continue to provide support as conditions allow.

Cal Fire noted the red flag warning has expired, however, conditions and fuels can still create fire conditions resistant to control. Winds will continue to be strong enough to keep the primary direction of fire progressio­n to the northeast.

Due to limited humidity recovery, dry fuels will continue to be extremely receptive to embers.

With evacuation orders lifted allowing some residents to return home, those returning are strongly encouraged to remain vigilant to current conditions.

Cal Fire said some residents may see smoke coming from trees and stumps for days following their return. If residents are concerned about any active flames, they are encouraged to call 911 and not attempt to extinguish them.

For the most up to date informatio­n about road closures follow Caltrans or California Highway Patrol on social media. A full view of the fires burning across California can be found by visiting https:// www.fire.ca.gov/incidents.

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