A wildfire ignited and spread rapidly to 650 acres of the Tahoe National Forest near Emigrant Gap Monday, forcing evacuations of homes and campgrounds in the rural area.
Cal Fire and U.S. Forest Service officials said they had dispatched air tankers, helicopters and more than a dozen strike crews to the blaze, which was centered near the North Fork Campground in American Canyon. A helicopter was searching for an individual believed to have been left in the water near the origin of the fire. The person was unable to walk, and was subsequently rescued, said Joe Flannery, public information officer for the Tahoe National Forest.
The Placer County Sheriff’s Office has so far focused on evacuating the North Fork Campground, Onion Valley Campground and Tunnel Mills Campground on Texas Hill Road, but they are continuing to watch the area.
“We are evacuating the area and asking people to stay out of the area because Interstate 80 is already busy, and this is making it worse,” said Lt. Andrew Scott, the spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “If people are in Reno, they should probably stay there for a while or find an alternate route along (Highway) 50 to get home.”
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Winds have played a role in whipping up wildfires in other areas, but the National Weather Service expects winds to remain light in the region over the next two days. Flannery said the early effort had included 15 hand crews, five helicopters and five water tankers. A dozen air tankers had been ordered.
Mary Eldridge, a Cal Fire spokesperson, said the region of the fire is a checkerboard of state and federal parkland, so Cal Fire is supporting the U.S. Forest Service but stands ready to protect state lands or to work jointly with the Forest Service on both.