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Butte Fire Grows To 14,700 Acres; More Evacuations Ordered

Photo taken from an evacuation area off Clinton Road.


See All Of CapRadio's Butte Fire Coverage

6:56 p.m. - Cal Fire reports the Butte Fire has grown to 14,700 acres, with 10 percent containment.

Evacuations Warnings: (Calaveras County) Mokelumne Hill (with the exception of Easy Bird Road, Sierra Lane, Thadeus Court, Center Street which are under a mandatory evacuation order)

Evacuation Centers:(Amador) Jackson Rancheria Hotel in conjunction with Red Cross (Calaveras) San Andreas Town Hall and Calaveras County Fairgrounds in Angels Camp

Large Animal/Pet Shelters: (Calaveras) Calaveras County Fairgrounds, contact TBD (Amador County) Amador County Fairgrounds, contact Kelly Reason 530-503-5233 

Agencies working the fire include: Jackson City, Sutter Creek, Amador Fire Protection District, Diamond Springs, USFS, CHP, Calaveras County Sheriff, BLM, PG&E, Calaveras PUD, OES, CDCR, Sutter Creek Fire Department, Sacramento Metro Fire, Sacramento City Fire, Folsom Fire, El Dorado County Fire, Cosumnes Fire 

5:02 p.m. - What would you take with you? 

It's a question many residents in rural Amador County are having to answer as  increased  winds continue to push the Butte Fire, forcing people to flee their homes.

Resident Betsey Peters was home alone when the evacuation alert came.

She spoke with Capital Public Radio's Managing Editor Linnea Edmeier minutes after being evacuated. 

Her daughter, Susan Peters, begins the conversation, because Betsey is speaking to her husband on the phone, who is having trouble making his way to her due to road closures and other traffic trying to get out. 


Full Interview

4:55 p.m. - The Butte Fire east of Jackson continues to spread in all directions.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for the Boston Yale subdivision and parts of State Route 26, Highway 49, and all areas south of Highway 88.

Cal Fire's Brice Bennett says about 60 fire engines are on the fire with more on the way.

"A substantial firefighting force on this one due to the very steep terrain and difficult access," he says. "We've had two DC-10s, more large air tankers, a substantial number of helicopters."

Six homes and two other buildings have burned.

Evacuation centers have been established at Jackson Rancheria Hotel, San Andreas Town Hall and the Calaveras County Fairgrounds in Angels Camp.

Bennett says when the winds shift down-canyon Thursday night, fire fighters and bulldozers will try to build fire lines up-canyon from the fire.

Thursday morning's map of the fire showed it had burned 4,000 acres.

Officials say there are 950 residents and 2,000 people evacuated in Amador County.

4:15 p.m. -  The Amador County Unified School District announced Thursday afternoon that all schools will be closed Friday, Sept. 11. 

The district sent the following email: 

This is an important message from the Amador County Unified School District. Due to the increasing number of evacuations and power outages impacting our staff and students, Amador County Unified School District will be closing all county schools for tomorrow, Friday, September 11th. Home high school athletic events are being cancelled for tomorrow night. Currently the intention is to have schools open as normal for Monday, September 14th. Should the fire conditions worsen over the weekend, and the need to close school sites remain, we will notify parents and staff. Thanks and Be Safe

3:30 p.m. - The Butte Fire east of Jackson has grown in all directions Thursday afternoon.

Cal Fire's Brice Bennett calls the fire's growth "explosive" and says firefighters have had to retreat from several positions.

"Well, the wind shifts on us, because we start with the up-canyon winds that are occurring right now with the heat of the day,"  he says. "As the day wears on, the fire pushes up canyon, as soon as the sun goes down, we start to get a little bit of temperature relief, you'll have a down canyon wind. That will push the fire back the other direction."

New road closures Thursday include Highway 88 at West Clinton Road and at Pioneer Volcano Road.

There are also new mandatory evacuations from Highway 88 south to the Amador Calaveras County line.

Bennett says fire fighters and bulldozers will try to build fire lines up-canyon from the fire Thursday night.

Six homes and two outbuildings have been destroyed. So far no injuries have been reported.

Thursday morning's map of the fire showed it had burned 4,000 acres.

-Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

3:27 p.m. - More people living in rural Amador County are being evacuated as winds increase and the Butte Fire spreads. 

The fire, which started Wednesday afternoon, is 20 percent contained at 4,000 acres.

Some roads are closed to all traffic by the CHP, making travel out of the fire area difficult.

Betsey Peters had to evacuate her home. But is waiting for her husband, who wasn't home at the time, as he tries to make his way to through the area.

"They're letting some traffic through," she says. "Actually all of the roads are jammed. I have never seen our roads up here this jammed."

Changing fire conditions continue to cause more road closures and evacuations.

In an effort to protect fire fighting aircraft, the FAA has closed airspace in the area.

Air Space Restrictions ButteFire 091015 P.jpg

-Linnea Edmeier / Capital Public Radio

2:26 p.m. -  Cal Fire issued mandatory evacuations and road closures for the following areas: 

Mandatory evacuations: 

South of Highway 88 to the Amador and Calaveras County Lines.

Starting at W. Clinton Road, Ponderosa Way, and E. Clinton Road to Ranch Road and Highway 88.

Road Closures:

Highway 88 and West Clinton Road

Pioneer Volcano Road and Highway 88

2:23 p.m. - The following message is from the Calaveras Unified School District:

Thursday September 10th

West Point Elementary, RailRoad Flat Elementary and Mokelumne Hill Elementary are closed because of a power outage.

Routes  17 and 16 are not running at all.  Route 14 will be picked up from Swiss Ranch at 7:10am down towards Mountain Ranch

Route 18 will pick up High School and Middle School students only.  It will pick up students at Sierra Trading Post instead of Mokelumne Hill Elementary School

Meanwhile, the Amador County Unified School District sent out phone messages that says: due to current road closures and evacuation orders, all students living along the Hwy 88 corridor attending Jackson Junior High, Amador High and Argonaut High must be picked up at their respective school sites. . Schools are not being evacuated, and will remain in session until the end of the day. Questions may be directed to the Transportation Office at (209) 257-5180.

1:53 p.m. - Residents in rural Amador County are being evacuated as winds increase and the Butte Fire gains intensity and grows in size.

Capital Public Radio learned some roads are under hard closures by the CHP, making travel out of the fire area difficult. 

Residents remain without power. Meanwhile, local grocery stores have brought refrigeration trucks and are moving goods from stores to keep them from spoiling.
Jackson Raleys 091015 P.jpg
Photo taken in Jackson, Calif.

1:02 p.m. YubaNet.com is reporting that additional evacuations have been ordered. 

  • An advisory order will be placed from Lower Dorray to Ridge Road and mandatory for Lower Dorrey to 49. 
  • Mandatory evacuations were also issued from Volcano/Pioneer Road to Pinegrove/Volcano.
  • Pine Acres was also being evacuated.

10:30 a.m. - The Butte Fire burning in Amador and Calaveras counties have destroyed six structures and 2 outbuildings, according to Cal Fire.

Below is a list of evecuation orders in place for the area:

Evacuation Orders: (Calaveras) Boston Yale Subdivision from East SR26 to Ponderosa Way, Easy Bird Rd, Sierra Ln, Thadeous Ct, Center St.; (Amador) Canyon View Rd, Fig Tree Ln, and Ponderosa Way.

Evacuations Warnings: (Calaveras) Mokelumne Hill (Amador) Clinton Bar Subdivision and surrounding area (East of Ponderosa Way, South of Tabeau Rd, and West of Roaring Camp Rd.

9:19 a.m. Evacuations are required for Amador Lane to the end of Electra, Charamuga Ranch Road, Canyon View, Fig Tree Lane, and Ponderosa Way. 

7:22 a.m. - Cal Fire tweeted the Butte Fire grew to 4,000 acres and containment has been scaled back to 20 percent. 

6:30 a.m. - In the foothills, wind and triple digit heat boosted the Butte Fire to 4,000 acres just hours after starting. The blaze jumped from Amador into Calaveras County and took out key power infrastructure -- a massive hydro-electric system on the Mokelumne River.

PG&E is waiting for fire crews battling the blaze to contain it before they can restore power to about 17,000 people.

Deb Harrigan is with PG&E. She says they're applying lessons learned earlier this fire season to the Butte Fire.

"We've got a fire down in the Fresno area -- the Rough Fire -- so we have lots of folks dedicated to that effort. And we absolutely take those lessons and apply them in these situations," says Harrigan.

Currently at 30 percent contained, the Butte Fire started Wednesday afternoon. PG&E says power could be restored tonight.
-Capital Public Radio Staff

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