Firefighters tackle the Cold Fire for a second day
The Cold Fire near Winters continued resisting efforts to control it Wednesday, jumping a firebreak on its northwest corner and heading back in the opposite direction.
“We’re now trying to catch the slop-over,” said Scott McLean, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on Wednesday evening.
The main body of the fire was moving northwest, he said, but the portion that jumped the firebreak turned southwest.
The fire continued to be wind driven during a day of hot temperatures and low humidity, McLean said. By late afternoon, it had grown to 4,600 acres and was 10 percent contained, up from 5 percent earlier in the day.
About 850 personnel were assigned to the fire, McLean said. Those firefighters have faced challenging conditions including steep terrain and dry grass and brush that can suddenly erupt in flames, putting lives in danger.
“The whole hillside can light up at once if it gets in good condition,” McLean said.
Bulldozers were being used to clear pathways for firefighters, who had to hike several miles with heavy equipment to reach areas of the blaze, he said.
The Cold Fire began at 4:36 p.m. Tuesday 7 miles west of Winters. It prompted the evacuation of a campground and several dozen homes perched in the semi-wooded area. Within hours it grew from 200 acres to 1,700 acres, and more than doubled in size overnight to 4,000 acres.
Hundreds of firefighters from throughout Northern California traveled to the Winters area Wednesday morning. They battled the blaze with the support of eight helicopters and six airtankers that dropped water and fire retardant.
An 8-mile stretch of Highway 128 was closed from Markley Cove Resort on Lake Berryessa to Pleasants Valley Road. Evacuations remained in effect for Canyon Creek Resort along Highway 128 and Golden Bear Estates, a residential area off County Road 34.
No injuries or structural damage had been reported, McLean said. The fire threatened Pacific Gas & Electric Co. power lines along Highway 128, according to Cal Fire.
If the main body of the fire continues north, no additional homes were expected to be affected, McLean said.
“It’s pretty sparse out there,” he said.
Along the closed section of highway, campers at the Canyon Creek Resort watched as fire crews put out remaining flames near the tail end of the fire.
Carolyn Hillegeist was one of the campers who decided to stay at the resort, despite orders to evacuate. She and her husband, who live in Texas, arrived at the resort in May for a long vacation.
“I was a little concerned when I saw the big flames,” Hillegeist said, adding that she saw flames up to 8 feet tall. “I was ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
Rich Lokey, a former bulldozer operator for Cal Fire and an Angels Camp resident, said he and his family also stayed at the campground. Lokey said he was comfortable with their decision not to evacuate given his previous experience with wildfires.
“If you’re inexperienced with sheltering in place, it’s not a good idea,” he said.
Cold Fire burn area
Actively burning areas of the Cold Fire, according to to satellite thermal detection: