Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Mosquito Fire balloons to over 6,000 acres, destroys structures

A fast-growing wildfire tearing through tinder-dry vegetation in the Sierra Nevada Range near the town of Foresthill grew another 1,100 acres overnight and continues to threaten multiple communities, important infrastructure and hundreds of homes, Cal Fire said Thursday morning.

The Mosquito Fire shows no signs of slowing down and by sunrise had already pumped out a massive smoke cloud that towered above Placer County, signaling extreme fire activity on the ground.

Cal Fire said “critical infrastructure” is threatened, including the Placer County Water Agency pump station and dam, Placer County Fire Repeater Site, 230 kV transmission lines, Sugar Pine Dam and community drinking water supply, Ralston hydroelectric powerhouse and cellular and microwave transmission towers .


Multiple reports and photos posted on social media Wednesday evening indicated that flames devoured some homes, structures and cars in Michigan Bluff, a historical Gold Rush town about 7 miles east of Foresthill overlooking the North and Middle forks of the American River.

Cal Fire spokesperson Chris Vestal said the agency has received reports of burned structures in Michigan Bluff, but he said he could not comment on the number of structures destroyed. Damage assessments are on the ground and will have more information as soon as possible, he said.

Vestal also said flames had not pushed into Foresthill proper and were still a few miles from downtown Foresthill.

The fire started in the Tahoe National Forest at 6:27 pm on Tuesday near Oxbow Reservoir 3 miles east of Foresthill amid a record-breaking heat wave in California that sent temperatures soaring above 100 degrees for several days straight. Hundreds of people were forced to flee their homes, and evacuations remain in place Thursday morning. (The live evacuation map is the best source for updated evacuation information.) The fire is burning through vegetation that was left parched and highly flammable after days of scorching weather. The acreage burned went from 5,705 acres on Wednesday night to 6,870 acres on Thursday morning.

Brent Wachter, a fire meteorologist at the US Forest Service’s Geographic Coordination Center in Redding, said the extreme dryness of the landscape was evident in the overnight hours after the fire first broke out. Fires often calm down after sunset when winds subside and temperatures drop, but the Mosquito Fire continued to burn — and the same thing happened Wednesday night.

“That’s how flammable the fuels are. Fires are even actively growing overnight,” Wachter told SFGATE on Wednesday.

Smoke from the fire spread across the Sierra foothills and flooded the Lake Tahoe basin. Placer County’s health department issued an air quality advisory warning of unhealthy air through Friday.

Vestal said conditions similar to Wednesday were expected Thursday with critical fire behavior and growth.

“Because of the terrain and the conditions, it’s really hard to put in containment lines,” he said.

This is a developing story, and details will be added as they become available.

People watch from a distance as the Mosquito Fire burns near Michigan Bluff in unincorporated Placer County, Calif., on Wednesday.

People watch from a distance as the Mosquito Fire burns near Michigan Bluff in unincorporated Placer County, Calif., on Wednesday.

Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via AP

A flag flies behind a scorched outbuilding as the Mosquito Fire burns along Michigan Bluff Road in unincorporated Placer County, Calif., on Wednesday.

A flag flies behind a scorched outbuilding as the Mosquito Fire burns along Michigan Bluff Road in unincorporated Placer County, Calif., on Wednesday.

Noah Berger/AP

Latest news
Related news

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here