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Lowell Fire: Containment Grows; Shifting Winds Trigger Health Alerts

@PlacerSheriff / Twitter

@PlacerSheriff / Twitter

Lowell Fire Tuesday Update: Acreage, Containment Grows

7:40 p.m. - Cal Fire says containment has grown to 25 percent, with burned acreage holding at 1,700. Shifting winds are causing smoky skies in the Truckee area, and officials recommend that outdoor activities be limited.

-Capital Public Radio staff

6:00 p.m. - CalFire is reporting the Lowell fire is still burning at 1,700 acres and is 20 percent contained. Mandatory evacuations are in place for Red Dog Rd East of Greenhorn Creek, You Bet Road East of Greenhorn Creek, Chalk Bluff and Lowell Hill Roads. Evacuation advisory is in place for the Cascade Shores Community.

CalFire is reporting 1,800 threatened structures in Placer and Nevada counties.

2:50 p.m. - Red Cross officials say the evacuation center has been moved to 1866 Ridge Road, Grass Valley. The center had previously been located at Nevada Union High School.


-Capital Public Radio staff

2:35 p.m. - The National Weather Service says the winds in the Sierra will change direction tonight, possibly affecting the Lowell Fire.

Cal Fire has released an updated Lowell Fire perimeter map, showing the area already burned.

-Capital Public Radio staff




8:45 a.m.: The Lowell Fire grew overnight to 1,700 acres, but firefighters have it 20 percent contained.

Three firefighters were treated and released Sunday, and one was kept in the hospital. His burns were more severe, but non-life threatening.

"They're doing well," says Mike Mohler, with Cal Fire. "Three were treated and released [Sunday] evening. The other one did have to remain in the hospital. His burns were a little bit more serious but non-life threatening."

The fire was sparked in the Steep Hollow Drainage. It's stayed in that area and followed the path of the drainage.

"So the fire did move a little bit [Sunday]," says Mohler. "It increased in size a little bit. They're going to work on reinforcing the containment lines that are in place, and building more. They'll have to see what the winds do this afternoon."

Mohler says crews are anticipating changes in wind direction.

"The winds were still out of the south [Sunday] afternoon," he says. "But today they're expecting some changes in the wind direction, which could create a problem."

Cal Fire expects to achieve full containment of the fire on Aug. 1.

8:30 a.m.: The Lowell Fire is still burning west of Alta in Placer and Nevada counties. Cal Fire says the blaze grew by another 200 acres overnight. The total acreage burned is now 1,700.

Thanks to cooler temperatures and lighter winds overnight, containment is up to 20 percent.

Nearly 2,000 structures are threatened, but no buildings have suffered damage.

Four firefighters were injured yesterday and airlifted to the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento for burns.

Cal Fire's Captain Mike Mohler says investigators are still trying to figure out what sparked the fire.

"I'd say CalFire, law enforcement, is working very aggressively to determine what exactly started this fire," he says. "And as soon as we have it, we will get it out."

The fire also prompted an emergency closure for parts of the Tahoe National Forest. 

A statement from the U.S. Forest Service states the closure is taking effect in order to support fire suppression and personnel safety, as well as public safety and resource protection.

The closure is on the south side of the Yuba River Ranger District and includes Tahoe National Forest lands, roads and trails between Highway 20 and Interstate 80.

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7:30 a.m: Four firefighters battling the Lowell Fire in Placer and Nevada Counties, west of Alta, were injured over the weekend.

Cal Fire says the injured firefighters were treated for burns at UC Davis Medical and are in good condition.

The Lowell Fire is about 20 percent contained and about 1,700 acres. Cal Fire spokesman Captain Mike Mohler says law enforcement is working to determine the cause of the fire and hopes to make progress Monday.

"Right now, firefighters overnight it sounds like they had some success with the weather, the humidity increase. The wind was on our side," says Mohler. "But again, we have hot temperatures moving into the area. Again, winds that are going to pose a problem. So we're really cautiously optimistic to see what today brings."

About 1,800 structures are threatened by the fire.

Meanwhile, The Kyburz Fire in the El Dorado National Forest has burned nearly 100 acres and is now 90 percent contained. The Wragg Fire burning in Solano and Napa counties has scorched nearly 6,591 acres and is 70 percent contained. And in Madera County, the Willow Fire has grown to more than 1,500 acres. Containment is at 5 percent.

Soft road closures are in place at:

  • SR-20 at Lowell Hill, I-80 at Dutch Flat Exit 139
  • I-80 at Secret Town Exit 149
  • Chicago Park at Powerhouse Road, Diggins at Alta and Mando Rd. between Pasquale and Banner

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Aerial shot of the Lowell Fire. Dani Crain / Submission

Original Post: Cal Fire says the blaze is holding at 1,500 acres and about 15 percent containment. About 1,800 homes and structures are threatened, but no buildings have suffered damage and crews are in the area, ready to respond.

Overnight, crews had some success containing the fire with wind and humidity levels helping out. Captain Mike Mohler with CalFire, says crews are cautiously optimistic, but hot temperatures and winds could pose a problem later Monday.

Mohler says the cause has not been determined yet.

"I'd say Cal Fire, law enforcement, is working very aggressively to determine what exactly started this fire," says Mohler. "And as soon as we have it, we will get it out."

The four firefighters, two with Cal Fire and two with the U.S. Forest Service, were transported to UC Davis Medical Center and treated for burns.

Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant says the injuries occurred around 5 p.m. Sunday.

Three are expected to be treated and released. Berlant says the fourth has injuries that are serious but not life-threatening.

Mandatory evacuations are still in place for You Bet, Red Dog, Lowell Hill and Chaulk Bluff area. An evacuation advisory is in place for the northeastern portion of Cascade Shores and in the Gold Run/Alta area.

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@PlacerSheriff / Twitter

Capital Public Radio Staff and The Associated Press contributed to this report.