California’s largest wildfire grows only slightly amid gusty, dry conditions

Crews continue to make good progress and hold containment lines on the Walker Fire, which has now burned more than 54,000 acres in Plumas National Forest.

The wildfire, burning 11 miles east of Taylorsville in northeast California, is mapped at 54,518 acres with 68 percent containment, the U.S. Forest Service said in a Monday morning incident update.

Mandatory evacuation orders continue for the Murdock Crossing and Stoney areas. Some local roadways are closed, but Highway 395 remains open.

Moderate gusty winds Sunday led to two spot fires breaking out south of the Walker Fire, but both were quickly fully contained, the Forest Service said.

After low humidity and winds near 40 mph worsened fire weather in the area Sunday – prompting an “extreme red flag warning” from the National Weather Service – rain and possible thunderstorms coming Monday morning and lasting through the evening should provide some relief from critical fire conditions.

More than 2,000 personnel were assigned to fight the wildfire as of Monday morning, but some crews are starting to remove equipment in some areas and survey for erosion effects caused by fire suppression activities, according to Monday’s incident update.

The Walker Fire started Sept. 4 in the early afternoon, and erupted two days later thanks to erratic winds, propelling the fire from 2,000 acres to 17,000 acres over several hours. The fire’s cause remains under investigation.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.