One fire nears containment, another prompts evacuations |

One fire nears containment, another prompts evacuations

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – As firefighters battling one blaze expected to fully contain it by Monday, another fire ignited in Northern California, prompting evacuations of residents in a rural area 50 miles southeast of Sacramento.

More than 1,478 firefighters had contained 95 percent of a nearly 25,000-acre blaze 150 miles north of San Francisco in the Mendocino National Forest late Sunday. The Trough Fire had burned since Aug. 8, and had destroyed 30 structures, including 10 homes.

By Sunday night, the fire had claimed 24,970 acres, up from 16,000 earlier that day.

”That is a jump, but it reflects the acreage burned as part of the back-firing (containment) operation,” said Gil Knight, a spokesman for the Mendocino National Forest.

Fire officials expected to fully contain the blaze by Monday evening and many workers already were being sent home, Knight said.

Fifteen firefighters suffered minor injuries since the blaze began. Fighting the blaze cost more than $10 million.

Meanwhile, a 1,000-acre fire began at about 2:30 Sunday afternoon a half mile outside San Andreas near Highway 49. The Leonard fire, so-called for the street it began on, was located about 50 miles southeast of Sacramento.

Evacuations of residents living on five roads in the rural area had been ordered, said Annette Roessler, a spokesperson with the California Department of Forestry.

Several structures were threatened but none had been destroyed Sunday night.

No injuries were reported and there were no estimates for containment, officials said. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

The 1,500-acre Creek Fire continued to burn in Mariposa County near Highway 49 Sunday night. It was 25 percent contained, down from 60 percent containment earlier that day after the fire kicked up again, according to Michelle Bryan, fire information officer with the California Department of Forestry.

The blaze closed Highway 49 three miles north of the Mariposa and Tuolumne county lines, officials said. Nearly 200 residences were threatened by the fire late Sunday and a shelter had been established at the Colterville Community Center.

Fire officials had been hopeful Sunday that oncoming cooler weather would help firefighters contain thousands of acres still burning through Northern California.

Blazes scorched more than 100,000 acres throughout the state’s northern half over the past two weeks, with firefighters battling the fires in stiff winds and temperatures often topping 90 degrees.

Firefighters had contained 95 percent of a 35,500-acre blaze Sunday night 350 miles northeast of San Francisco in the Modoc National Forest. Fire officials expect to fully contain the Blue Fire by Tuesday, said Joe Colwell, fire information officer.

”We survived a day of wind Saturday, but there wasn’t too much wind Sunday,” Colwell said. ”So we made a lot of really good progress. This one looks like we’re wrapping it up.”

The estimated cost of the fire had grown to $9.6 million Sunday. Throughout the day, 1,200 firefighters with 39 engines, eight water tenders, 11 bulldozers and 10 helicopters battled the blaze.

The 1,900-acre Ponderosa Fire burning 130 miles east of San Francisco near the American River and Interstate 80 was 30 percent contained late Sunday, with 1,573 firefighters on the job, said JoAnn Cartoscelli, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry.

A flare-up Sunday injured four firefighters. Three received cuts and abrasions from the jagged rocks. A fourth suffered heat exhaustion and was airlifted from the rugged terrain to an area hospital.

A gold miner told fire authorities the blaze was sparked in dry brush Friday when he started his vehicle near the north fork of the American River. Structures had been threatened but none were reported lost or destroyed. Cartoscelli did not have a cost estimate.

Several other hot spots either were still burning or had been contained, including:

-A 5-acre blaze near the town of Paradise. Officials with the state Office of Emergency Services expected it fully contained by late Sunday.

-Firefighters on Friday contained a 2,462-acre fire near Emigrant Gap which had closed parts of I-80 for three straight days. It scorched one residence, one outbuilding and a third structure, said Carol Kennedy, Tahoe National Forest information officer. It cost $3.4 million to fight.

-On Thursday, firefighters contained Northern California’s largest blaze, near Susanville. The fire claimed 67,000 acres and cost $2.7 million, said Jeff Fontana, a spokesman for the Sunsanville Interagency Fire Center.

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