Fires burning in both California and Nevada near Tahoe |

Fires burning in both California and Nevada near Tahoe

A Cal Fire helicopter works the Ranch Fire Wednesday afternoon, July 26.
Michael Shepard via Mountain Democrat |

Firefighters in the region and throughout the West have had a busy summer so far, and there are few signs pointing toward an easing in the fire season.

Over 5,000 firefighters are on the lines of 11 large wildfires burning in California, according to a Thursday morning update from Cal Fire.

That includes the Detwiler Fire, which had burned 81,350 acres and was only 75 percent contained Thursday. Since the fire started July 16 in Mariposa County, 63 residences have been destroyed and another 500 are threatened, according to Cal Fire.

Seven firefighter units were on hand earlier this week battling the Ranch Fire in El Dorado County south of Placerville. The fire forced mandatory evacuations Wednesday afternoon shortly after the blaze was reported. At one point 40 to 50 structures were threatened, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office. By Wednesday evening the fire had grown to more than 100 acres but the mandatory evacuation orders were lifted.

Thursday morning the sheriff’s office announced crews had reached soft containment of the 140-acre fire.

On the Nevada side of the border, officials hope to have a line around the 5,386-acre Preacher Fire, which is burning in the Pine Nut Mountains east of Gardnerville, by noon Saturday.

Crews continued to mop up hot spots and secure the perimeter of the fire Thursday. There was a line around a fifth of the fire, with focus on the northern flank to protect nearby homes.

“As the western and eastern edges are in extremely steep terrain, additional crews have been assigned to these areas where access by engines is limited,” according to fire public information officer Denise Cobb. “Dozers have made excellent progress on the northern edge of the fire and crews will continue today to secure the line.”

More than 500 firefighters are working on the blaze, which began with a lightning strike early Monday morning.

National Weather Service forecasters predict a chance of lightning storms on Friday and Saturday.

The cost of fighting the fire hit $1.2 million on Thursday, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center incident management situation report.

A grant approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover up to three-quarters of the fire’s cost. Douglas County commissioners issued a disaster declaration on Tuesday.

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