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King Fire Sunday Update: Containment Grows, 10 Homes Destroyed

Photo courtesy Thomas Loarie Jr

Smoke from the King Fire as seen from El Dorado Hills on Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014. The fire started Sept. 13, and has scorched more than 80,000 acres in a week.

Photo courtesy Thomas Loarie Jr

Updates on Inciweb: King Fire

YubaNet.com Updates: King Fire

El Dorado County Sheriff

Cal Fire and USFS King Fire Facebook Page

County of El Dorado Twitter

CA Interagency Incident Management Team 1

El Dorado National Forest


UPDATE at 8 P.M.:

The King Fire burning in El Dorado County remained at an estimated 82,018 acres Sunday night.

Crews were able to make some progress with containment growing from 10 to 17 percent, according to Cal Fire

A dense smoke advisory was issued Sunday for Reno and the Central Sierra and officials said the smokey conditions will likely remain through the coming week.

Officials said that 32 structures were destroyed by the fire, including 10 homes.

There were no additional evacuations and the El Dorado County Sheriff's office modified its list of road closures and evacuation notices.

Current Road Closures (as of 9/21/14 @ 2100 hrs)

Mosquito Road @ Volz Lane

Rock Creek Road @ Highway 193

Wentworth Springs Road @ Chiquita Bypass

Wentworth Springs Road @ Sand Mountain Road

Ice House Road @ Highway 50

Wrights Lake Road @ Highway 50

Forebay Road @ Blair Road (Residents Only)

Cable Road @ Badger Hill Road

-Capital Public Radio Staff 

UPDATE at 10 A.M.: IRONMAN organizers say they canceled their Lake Tahoe triathlon at the last minute Sunday due to warnings from health officials that the air quality conditions would be unsafe for both athletes and the general public.

They say state of California and Placer County health officials advised IRONMAN that the particulate matter levels (known as PM2.5) around Lake Tahoe early Sunday morning were so high as to be unhealthy.

"As much as we were all looking forward to this event, I am confident that the cancellation was the right decision to protect the health of the athletes and the public," Placer County Public Health Officer Dr. Robert Oldham said in a statement.

"Saturday’s initial projections from the King Fire had suggested that smoke and particulate matter would not impact the event on Sunday," according to IRONMAN's statement. "However, fire behavior and wind patterns changed significantly on Saturday afternoon with air quality at Squaw Valley, Truckee, and Tahoe City deteriorating rapidly through the course of the evening. Smoke models predict little relief on Sunday with smoke accumulation increasing as the day progresses, according to the anticipated shift to a southwesterly wind."

UPDATE at 9:45 A.M.: From CAL FIRE: "Temperatures across the State should be relatively mild with a chance of rain in parts of the higher elevation. Winds today are expected to be relatively calm. This will help firefighters in their efforts towards containing the current wildfires and should help reduce the fire danger level for new wildfires somewhat today."

UPDATE at 9:40 A.M.: The King Fire has destroyed 10 homes and 22 other structures in the White Meadows area of El Dorado County, according to preliminary reports from CAL FIRE's damage assessment team.

There have been no new evacuations, said CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Scott McLean Sunday morning, nor have any evacuations been lifted.

No community meetings are scheduled for Sunday; they will start up again on Monday.

UPDATE at 9:30 A.M.: Firefighters battling the King Fire in El Dorado County caught a break Saturday night from thunderstorms traveling through the area.

Thunderstorms have the potential to help or hurt firefighters - sometimes both at the same time. Saturday night's storm was "very beneficial because it decreased the fire activity" at the southern end of the fire zone, said CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Scott McLean. That allowed crews to get closer to the edge of the fire and cut fire lines - a fundamental part of the containment process.

But despite a "pretty substantial amount of rain" falling in the fire zone, McLean warns that the vegetation will dry out very rapidly, because the plants have very little - if any - moisture in them due to the drought. He also says the rain will pose a hazard for ground crews, who must move heavy equipment up and down steep mountain terrain on dirt and gravel roads.

Firefighters also feared the storm could cause erratic winds, which could have severely affected the fire's direction and behavior. But those fears were never realized. "Because of that, we were able to get on the fire lines and get some more fire lines cut and strengthened," McLean says.

Crews have their work cut out for them on Sunday and beyond. "We need to make sure we strengthen those (fire) lines," McLean says, "and make sure we get all the hot spots within the fire area extinguished and taken care of."

ORIGINAL POST: The King Fire in El Dorado County grew just 24 acres overnight – to 82,018 – but still threatens 21,000 structures (including 12,000 homes) and is just 10 percent contained.

Authorities were concerned that Saturday night’s thunderstorms could cause the fire to behave erratically, but that doesn’t appear to have been an issue. In fact, the increased humidity helped moderate fire activity overnight.

Organizers of the IRONMAN Lake Tahoe triathlon were forced to cancel the event at the last-minute Sunday morning due to the smoky air.

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Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio