The United States Forest Service and California Interagency Incident Management Team 4 held a virtual community meeting at 7:00 p.m. via the live broadcast from the C. Roy Carmichael Elementary School campus on Thursday, July 8.
The meeting opened with comments from Planning Section Chief Joe Scuri, who introduced the members of the California Interagency Incident Management Team 4.
System COO Jake Cagle said those working at the Beckwourth complex, especially Sugar Fire, experience extreme fire behavior and conditions.
“We don’t usually see that type of weather with these fire conditions this early in July,” Cagle explained. “Right now we’re focusing on life safety and protecting the structure – we’re working to anchor and lock this thing up.”
Cagle reported that all available resources are being used to attack the ever-increasing Sugar Fire, with multiple bulldozers on the ground, constant attack from air support, and repeated attempts to establish lines over rough terrain.
Today, the Sugar Fire has crossed Frenchman Lake Road and is heading towards Adams Peak, with greater spread predicted overnight.
“We are coordinating with many different agencies on this, such as BLM, CalFire and local government units,” Cagle said. “We would expect the fire to hang up around Adams Peak and slow down at 8pm, as it has every night at that time. Then we start to work aggressively to minimize the impact we can on the day shift.
The fire is busy 24 hours a day, but Cagle noted that efforts are most productive at night, when the weather and relative humidity are most favorable. “We have strengthened our night shift,” he added.
“We have been exhausted more than once by the erratic behavior of this fire, so our focus is on protecting the points and establishing anchor points where we can stow things,” Cagle also noted. .
There was a run around 10 a.m. this morning on the Sugar blaze, and it bloomed around 2 p.m. as the wind gusts reached 30 miles per hour or more and temperatures rose.
Above-normal temperatures are expected to continue, with a record-breaking heat wave expected from Saturday to Monday, and conditions remain extremely dangerous as the fire breaks out.
Fire behavior analyst Diondray Wiley noted that we are looking at a “high risk burn environment” and said, “We are in a very dry and dangerous situation. Fuels are extremely dry and receptive.
It has been reported that there is a very long burnout period with this fire, lasting 12 to 15 hours, preventing firefighters from making much progress on containment until after midnight.
There was also spotting activity today on the Sugar fire, with several point fires reported up to a mile before the leading edge.
It was also noted that the competition for resources will become much more difficult as the fire season progresses.
Mayor Bill Powers spoke briefly to thank all agencies working on the incident and noted that Plumas Unified School District Superintendent Terry Oestreich had proposed that the two schools in Portola be used as needed for operations.
It has been mentioned that there may be a loss of structure in the vicinity of Carmen Road, but at this time there is no confirmed information on the loss of structure as an assessment is underway.
Cagle was asked why the crews were released on Monday, and he replied that some resources had been diverted to other incidents that were a higher priority at the time, such as the lava fire in Shasta County. .
It was reiterated that everyone should heed evacuation orders and stay out of the area to allow resources to do their job better.
Mandatory evacuations remain in place for the entire area around Dooley, Big Cove, Frenchman Cove, Frenchman Village and Frenchman Lake, including all campgrounds and residences around the lake and Maddalena. The ordinances were also extended to mandatory for residents of Dixie Valley.
Plumas National Forest Supervisor Chris Carlton also today issued a Forest Closure Order for the Beckwourth Fire Complex in the Beckwourth Ranger District, effective July 8, 2021 to August 1, 2021.
An evacuation center has been established at 171 Gulling Street in Portola. The Sugar Blaze, which erupted on July 2 from lightning strikes, is just one of two fires that are part of the Beckwourth complex. The other is the Dotta fire, which broke out on June 30, also attributed to lightning.
The teams remain on this fire to get rid of the fumes and improve the depth of the containment lines. At the last report, the Beckwourth complex spanned 12,469 acres and at 30 percent containment.
More information will be added as it becomes available.