Fires

Trailhead Fire expands to 2,151 acres, containment still 12 percent

Air support helping keep Trialhead Fire from exploding

Cal fire spokesman Daniel Berlant fears high temperatures could allow the fire to grow.
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Cal fire spokesman Daniel Berlant fears high temperatures could allow the fire to grow.

The wildfire burning in the rugged mountains between Georgetown and Foresthill slowly spread overnight as crews attempted to extinguish the hard-to-reach blaze. As of Friday morning, the fire has expanded to 2,151 acres, up from 1,564 Thursday night.

The blaze dubbed the Trailhead Fire grew by about 300 acres Thursday and another 586 acres overnight. Containment remains at 12 percent.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said crews have been working on the north side of the middle fork of the American River in El Dorado County.

“That is where the majority of the fire activity has been,” Berlant said. “That is good for those who were evacuated from Todd Valley, which is in Placer County.”

A public meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. Friday at Foresthill High School, 23319 Foresthill Road, where fire staff will give an informational update and answer questions from the public.

In El Dorado County, the U.S. Forest Service reported that firefighters worked Thursday to construct fire lines to protect the community of Volcanoville. As of 9 a.m. Thursday, a voluntary evacuation notice was issued for Volcanoville. Shortly after 4 p.m., the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office announced that a notice of mandatory evacuation had been issued for more than three-dozen roads in the rural area that had been subject to voluntary evacuation.

The fire is being made difficult for firefighters by terrain and dry conditions. Efforts were hampered Tuesday and Wednesday by amateurs flying drones, which stopped aerial firefighting for about 30 minutes each day.

“We had hobby drones fly over the fire area,” Berlant said. “We were forced to pull our aircraft back until the hobby drones were removed. Every minute we are not able to fly, the fire gets larger.”

Berlant said law enforcement was notified, but he was not aware if anyone had been cited.

“We have to remind hobby operators that if you fly, we can’t,” Berlant said.

The fire contributed to poor air quality Thursday, with air quality management agencies in Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties warned of smoky conditions that could cause health problems, particularly for children, older people and those with heart disease or respiratory issues. The National Weather Service reported that overnight winds could cause smoke to drift down the canyon toward Auburn.

The cause of the fire, which started along the river, has not been determined.

“That’s an area often frequented by rafters so we are asking the public to please let us know if they know how this fire started,” Berlant said.

In Placer County, an evacuation center has been established in the Sierra Building at the Gold Country Fairgrounds, 1273 High St., in Auburn. Facilities are available at the fairgrounds for both household pets and livestock.

In El Dorado County, an evacuation shelter has been established at Golden Sierra High School. The shelter can accommodate small animals. Sheriff's officials said county Animal Services has arranged accommodations for large animals at 1100 Cold Springs Road.

Don Dykes and his son Nathan collect some belongings after the Trailhead Fire near Foresthill forces an evacuation.

Firefighting crews are battling the Trailhead Fire in El Dorado and Placer counties. More than 1,900 firefighters are battling the blaze under continuing hot weather conditions. Firefighters are using 123 engines, 22 bulldozers and 17 watertenders

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

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