BUCKS LAKE (CBS SF) — Steep terrain advanced the Dixie Fire toward the Bucks Lake area of Plumas County where a massive deployment of five Cal Fire strike teams was preparing to battle the flames and protect the homes in the wilderness area.
At his Wednesday night update, operation chief Tony Brownell said while the western and northwestern sides of the burn zone were not expanding, firefighters were facing challenges to the east.
“When the fire started heating up in Bucks (reservoir and wilderness area) the column shaded the fire up on top so it keep it from getting up and running or spotting,” he said. “So we were able to make some great progress…The fire did hit into the Butt (Valley) area. But it’s holding. We did have two spot fires on the other side of Butt Reservoir. We are not sure if they are part of the lightning series or spots from the fire.”
The main activity of the fire, Brownell said, was in the southeast corner in the Bucks Lake wilderness area.
“The fire is coming through the Bucks drainage down toward lower Bucks,” he said. “It’s actually making a slope run, it’s not wind-influenced and it’s just kinda pushing toward Buck… We have five strike teams — that means 40 engines in the Bucks area for structure defense. They are going around structures, cleaning them up, making sure all the pine needles are off the roof. So if the fire does progress, we have a fighting chance of saving those structures.”
The flames have also reached “the hill above Twain,” Brownell said. “We do have resources all up and down the Feather River to protect all the small communities.”
Another spot fire in the Eagle Rock area grew to 100 acres and had triggers some new evacuation warnings.
By Thursday morning, the blaze had grown to 103,910 acres and was 17% contained, according to officials. Almost 4,000 personnel are assigned to the fire.
Included among the firefighters was a team dispatched to battle the flames from tanker cars in train tracks deep into the wilderness.
Forest Folk was among the firefighters who have traveled to Butte County to fight the fire.
“I have not been to Butte County before…We got here last Wednesday. “The most difficult part of this fire is super dry fuels and access. We’ve been having to build roads to get to the fire.”
In a filing with the state PUC, Pacific Gas & Electric said blown fuses were discovered on one of its power lines near where the Dixie Fire sprang to life.
The utility said a repairman noticed damage to fuses on a power line on July 13 after the company’s outage system indicated that Cresta Dam off of Highway 70 in the Feather River Canyon had lost power.
“The responding PG&E troubleman observed from a distance what he thought was a blown fuse on the PG&E Bucks Creek 1101 12kV Overhead Distribution Circuit uphill from his location,” the utility said in an electric incident report with the California Public Utilities Commission.
“Due to the challenging terrain and road work resulting in a bridge closure, he was not able to reach the pole with the fuse until approximately 1640 hours. There he observed two of three fuses blown and what appeared to him to be a healthy green tree leaning into the Bucks Creek 1101 12 kV conductor, which was still intact and suspended on the poles.”
“He also observed a fire on the ground near the base of the tree. The troubleman manually removed the third fuse and reported the fire. His supervisor called 9-1-1, and the 9-1-1 operator replied they were aware of the fire and responding. Cal Fire air support arrived on scene by approximately 1730 hours and began dropping fire retardant and water.”
In a statement to KPIX 5, PG&E said it was cooperating with state fire officials.
“The information PG&E submitted is preliminary, and the company submitted this report in an abundance of caution given CAL FIRE’s collection of PG&E facilities in connection with its investigation. PG&E is cooperating with CAL FIRE’s investigation.”