JACKSON, Calif. — Evacuation orders were expanded Tuesday for remote California communities near a wildfire that may have been sparked by fireworks or a July 4 barbecue in a mountainous region that is a top tourism destination.
The Electra Fire in the Sierra Nevada’s Gold Country erupted Monday afternoon and tripled in size to about 6.1 square miles (15.8 square kilometers). It was 5% contained on Tuesday night.
The fire made short, uphill runs, fire officials said.
“The rate of spread isn’t what it was yesterday, but it’s still spreading,” Amador County Sheriff Gary Redman said. He said firefighters were working to confine the blazes to uninhabited canyon areas.
Mandatory evacuation orders and warnings combined affected up to 700 residents in Amador County and 300 to 400 people in Calaveras County, Redman said. Evacuation centers have been set up for people and animals.
The fire broke out in a recreation area that was packed with people, forcing 85 to 100 people celebrating the holiday by a river to take shelter at a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. facility, Redman said. All were later safely evacuated.
“I’ve never been so close to a fire. It was literally yards from us,” said Milka Mikula, from Valley Springs, who walked to the river with her husband, 5-year-old daughter and 1-year-old son.
They had to wait about six hours before finally heading home, she told KCRA-TV.
“I just wanted to go home. I just wanted to get out there with my babies. I was shaking really, really badly for a while,” said Mikula.
Redman said the cause of the fire was not known but it started in the Vox Beach area on the North Fork Mokelumne River. He said that could point to fireworks or a barbecue as a possible cause.
More than 100 fire engines, 1,200 firefighters and 14 helicopters were dispatched to the blaze, which posed a threat to power infrastructure, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. The terrain has been described as steep and rugged.
Cal Fire activated an incident management team for the fire. The teams “are made up of trained personnel who provide operational management and support for large-scale, escalating incidents,” Cal Fire said.
A firefighter from the local fire protection district suffered burn injuries, Redman said.
Vox Beach is located approximately 55 miles (89 kilometers) east of Sacramento in the heart of the Sierra Nevada region steeped in gold rush history of the mid-1800s.
Several other small fires were burning in the state.
https://nypost.com/2022/07/06/new-evacuations-for-communities-near-california-forest-fire/ New evacuations for communities near California wildfires