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Butte Fire Grows To Nearly 65,000 Acres, Spreading In All Directions

Susan Peters / Courtesy

A view of the Butte Fire from Highway 49. Photo taken in Jackson, Calif. on Sept. 11, 2015.

Susan Peters / Courtesy

See All Of CapRadio's Butte Fire Coverage

Butte Fire Saturday Update:  Evacuation Orders Remain, 15 Structures Destroyed



11:55 p.m. - The Butte Fire stands at 64,728 acres, with 5 percent containment. More than 6,400 structures are threatened, according to Cal Fire.

Evacuation notices include:

Mandatory Evacuation Orders:

(Amador County) Canyon View, Fig Tree Lane, and Ponderosa Way; the Town of Pine Grove to include all areas South of Hwy 88 from West Clinton Road, East to Ranch Drive. Inclusive of the Communities of Ranch House Estates, Pine Acres, Jackson Pines, Pine Drove Ranchettes and Lake Tabeau

(Calaveras County) (Calaveras County) Town of Mokelumne Hill, East of Hwy 49 from the Amador/Calaveras County line South to Goldstrike Road. South on Goldstrike Road to the Community of San Andreas. Rural areas East of San Andreas to Mountain Ranch Road. Mountain Ranch Road to Calaveritas Road to Fourth Crossing. Fourth Crossing to Hwy 49. East side of Hwy 49 South to North side of Hwy 4 (Angels Camp). North side of Hwy 4 East to Town of Arnold. All of SR 26 from Mokelumne Hill North to the Amador/Calaveras County line. To include the communities of Glencoe, Westpoint, and Wilseyville.

Evacuations Advisories:

(Amador County) Hwy 88 from Ranch Road East to Tiger Creek Road (Red Corral and Buckhorn Areas).

(Calaveras County) City of Angels Camp, Hwy 49 South to Hwy 4 South at the city limits of Angels Camp. Town of Arnold, Northwest of Hwy 4 includes sub-divisions of Lakemont, Mill Woods and Meadowmont. Hwy 4 North to Sheep Ranch Road/Blue Lake Springs sub-division, Big Trees State Park, Town of Dorrington, Town of Murphys and Forest Meadows. Town of San Andreas. Poole Station Road, Carroll Kennedy Road, Cement Plant Road, Demearest Mine Road, Oak Valley Road, Gelding Road, Stallion Road, Deer Creek Road, Copello Road.

Evacuation Centers:

(Amador) Jackson Rancheria Hotel, San Andreas Town Hall, Calaveras County Fairgrounds. 


 

6:48 p.m. - Cal Fire says the Butte Fire has grown to 64,728 acres, with containment reduced to 5 percent. More than 2,400 firefighters are now working the incident.

 


6:15 p.m. California Governor Jerry Brown has made the declaration for Amador and Calaveras Counties. The declaration allows the state's Office of Emergency Services to mobilize any state resources that could help with the firefighting effort.

The California National Guard will also support disaster response and relief efforts.

The fire is burning in several watersheds. Josh Rubenstein with Cal Fire says it's growing in every direction.

"We have over 20 aircraft on this fire both fixed wing and helicopters. and the way they operate is there is an "eye in the sky." There is a coordinator up there coordinating all of their efforts."

Josh Rubinstein Cal Fire


Nearly 1,600 firefighters are assigned to the fire with more on the way.

Cal Fire says six homes and two outbuildings have burned.


6:00 p.m. The Butte Fire southeast of Sacramento has charred 50,000 acres and is threatening the town of San Andreas.

The town had been under an evacuation order earlier today when the fire was approaching. Cal Fire's Lynn Tolmachoff says the fire changed direction when it reached town and the mandatory order was lifted.

"Although we have removed the mandatory evacuation, we still want people to be prepared or if they feel the need to voluntarily go ahead and evacuate."

California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Amador and Calaveras Counties.

The declaration allows the Office of Emergency Services to mobilize all state resources that could help fight the fire.

The California National Guard will also support disaster response and relief efforts.

Sixteen hundred firefighters, 21 bulldozers and two-dozen aircraft are fighting the fire.

Cal Fire has identified six homes and two outbuildings that have been destroyed.

- Bob  Moffitt / Capital Public Radio


5:04 p.m. Cal Fire is now reporting the community of San Andreas is no longer under an evacaution order, but residents should be prepared.

Residents in the Westpoint and Railroad Flats area are asked to exit the area Northeast towards SR 26 to Pine Grove. Emergency officials are asking that all residents adhere to these exit routes for public and emergency personnel safety.

Cal Fire is calling for mandatory evacuations North of Mountain Ranch Road and East of Gold Strike Road. There's an advisory warning for South of Mountain Ranch Road.


3:51 p.m. The Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties has grown to more than 50,000 and is 10 percent contained. 

At least 6,000 structures are threatened by the wildfire that started Wednesday.

Cal Fire says that extreme weather conditions, steep topography, and a historic four-year drought are causing "unprecedented fire conditions and growth" of the Butte Fire.

Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Amador and Calaveras counties. His proclamation would free up resources for communities affected by the fire and would expedite the debris removal process and waive fees to replace documents such as birth certificates.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for: San Andreas, east of Highway 49 to Dogtown Rd. East of Gardner, North of Murphys Grade and all the way up Highway 4 past Avery to Flying Acres (just above Avery); Oak Park Estates North to Mountain Ranch Road; East of Highway 4 to Avery and north to Mokelumne Hill.

Additionally, Calaveras County officials say Vallecito School District Kids have been taken to the Calaveras County Fairgrounds, where an evacuation center is set up.

Cal Fire also has the following mandatory evacuations in place:

Residents of the town of San Andreas are being placed on mandatory evacuation immediately due to explosive fire conditions in the area. Emergency personnel are asking everyone to leave the area and NOT to shelter in place.

Residents in the Westpoint and Railroad Flats area should exit the area Northeast towards SR 26 to Pine Grove. Emergency officials are asking that all residents adhere to these exit routes for public and emergency personnel safety.

(Amador County) Canyon View, Fig Tree Lane, and Ponderosa Way; The Town of Pine Grove to include all areas South of Hwy 88 at Ranch Road and East of West Clinton and Easy Bird Road, Sierra Lane, Thadeus Court, Center Street; SR 26 from Hwy 49 to Railroad Flat to include all sides of the street; Jesus Maria from Hwy 26 to Railroad Flat to include all side streets North of Jesus Maria and South to Doster Rd/West Murray Creek Road and East of Hawver Road.

(Calaveras County) Communities of Glencoe and Wilseyville; Lower Dorray Road; Jesus Maria from Hwy 26 to Railroad Flat to include all side streets North of Jesus Maria and South to Doster Road/West Murray Creek Road and East of Hawver Road; Ridge Road North to SR 26, Associated Office Road, Woodhouse Mine with Railroad Flat as Eastern Boundary; Hawver Road at Gold Strike East to Doster Road; Whiskey Slide Road North of Mountain Ranch Road to Jesus Maria/Whiskey Slide East to Railroad Flat Road.

2:53 p.m. The Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties is now burning up to 50,000 acres. The blaze is at 10 percent containment.

According to a statement released by Cal Fire: Due to extreme weather conditions, steep topography and a historic four-year drought, the Butte Fire is experiencing unprecedented fire conditions and growth. 

Incident Commander Phill Veneris is urging the public to stay vigilant and adhere to all evacuation orders.

Evacuations are being issued through the Calaveras County and Amador County Sheriffs.

Evacuation Centers are located at:

  • Jackson Rancheria Hotel
  • San Andreas Town Hall
  • Calaveras County Fairgrounds 

View larger map

1 p.m . The Calaveras County Sheriff's Office issued more mandatory evacuation orders Friday afternoon. 

Mandatory evacuations are in place for: San Andreas, east of Highway 49 to Dogtown Rd. East of Gardner, North of Murphys Grade and all the way up Highway 4 past Avery to Flying Acres (just above Avery); Oak Park Estates North to Mountain Ranch Road; East of Highway 4 to Avery and north to Mokelumne Hill.

11:49 a.m. Since Wednesday night some 11,000 customers near the area of the Butte Fire have been without power. PG&E released the following statement Friday. 

PG&E is now restoring 1,700 customers impacted by the Butte Fire in areas listed below:
 
Tiger Creek Road, Silver Drive Subdivision, Mace Meadows Subdivision, Amador Pines subdivision, the corridor on Highway 88 from Buckhorn to Dew Drop.  In addition, the Amador Water Agency will also have power restored.
 
Please remind residents when they do get back into areas that have been evacuated and then cleared for residents to go back, to check their appliances - AC units, water pumps, lights that you may have had on when the power went out – and turn them off before the power is restored to avoid a power surge to the appliances.
 

10 a.m. Cal Fire crews are defending communities in the Jackson area against the "Butte Fire" burning in Amador and Calaveras counties.

"The fire overnight doubled in size, and that's what we've been seeing since this fire ignited," says Daniel Berlant, with Cal Fire. "A very fast moving fire at an explosive rate. And it's not because of strong gusty winds, which is typically what we would see with a fire this time of year growing this fast."

Triple-digit heat, dry forest conditions, and steep terrain make this a difficult fire that, Berlant says, could take several more days to contain.

Berlant says the fire has grown to  31,974 acres. Containment is at 10 percent.

Latest evacuation information

(Amador County) Canyon View, Fig Tree Lane, and Ponderosa Way; The Town of Pine Grove to include all areas South of Hwy 88 at Ranch Road and East of West Clinton and Easy Bird Road, Sierra Lane, Thadeus Court, Center Street; SR 26 from Hwy 49 to Railroad Flat to include all sides of the street; Jesus Maria from Hwy 26 to Railroad Flat to include all side streets North of Jesus Maria and South to Doster Rd/West Murray Creek Road and East of Hawver Road.

(Calaveras County) Communities of Glencoe and Wilseyville; Lower Dorray Road; Jesus Maria from Hwy 26 to Railroad Flat to include all side streets North of Jesus Maria and South to Doster Road/West Murray Creek Road and East of Hawver Road; Ridge Road North to SR 26, Associated Office Road, Woodhouse Mine with Railroad Flat as Eastern Boundary; Hawver Road at Gold Strike East to Doster Road; Whiskey Slide Road North of Mountain Ranch Road to Jesus Maria/Whiskey Slide East to Railroad Flat Road.

Map Courtesy Of YubaNet.com

8:31 a.m. In Amador and Calaveras counties, the Butte Fire, burning east of Jackson, has scorched 31,974 acres.

Cal Fire crews have it at 10 percent containment.

Brooke Bingaman is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. She says record-breaking heat means fire crews have to take more breaks.

But Bingaman says the lack of strong wind gusts is helping. 

"The good news is that the winds aren't very strong so it's not like the winds are pushing the fire and helping it race in one direction or another," she says. "But because it's so hot and because it's so dry, it makes it easier for the fire to spread in all directions."

The fire, which started Wednesday, has destroyed six structures and two outbuildings and prompted mandatory evacuations.

Cal Fire says 1,500 other structures are threatened and that the hot and dry weather conditions make battling the blaze difficult.

"Most of this fire is burning to the south and to the east," says Daniel Berlant, with Cal Fire. "Those are the two directions that we're seeing most of the fire growth. Now that's not because of the winds, it's because of the terrain and the dry conditions fueling the fire.

Over 1,000 fire personnel are playing defense.  Cal Fire hopes the cooler temperatures expected in the coming days and more humidity next week will slow down the blaze.

"This fire is burning in a river drainage, the Mokelumne River, which adds to the challenge," Berlant says. "There's a lot of trees, it's very steep terrain. Those all add to the challenge to get crews in to fight the fire. But also, with all those homes throughout the area, we have to do a lot of structure protection."

6:49 a.m. The Butte Fire burning in Amador and Calaveras counties significantly grew overnight. The blaze is now burning at 31,974 acres and is at 10 percent containment.

The following mandatory evacuations have been issued:

Mandatory: Calaveras County) Jesus Maria from Hwy SR 26 to Railroad Flat to include all side streets North of Jesus Maria and South to Doster Road / West Murray Creek Road and East of Hawver Road; Ridge Rd North to SR 26, Associated Office, Woodhouse Mine with Railroad Flat as Eastern Boundary; Hawver Road at Gold Strike East to Doster Rd.; Whiskey Slide Rd North of Mountain Ranch Rd to Jesus Maria / Whiskey Slide East to Railroad Flat Rd.

Warnings: (Calaveras County) Town of Mountain Ranch South of Mountain Ranch Rd and Alpine Areas of Mountain Ranch; Sierra Vista Lookout Rd., West Murray Creek Rd. to Doster Rd., Murray Dale Lane (Entire Road); Leonard Rd Subdivision

Road Closures: (Calaveras County) Railroad Flat at Sheep Ranch Rd.; Mountain Ranch at Whiskey Slide; Independence and Railroad Flat.

About 11,000 customers are still without power in Jackson, Pine Grove and Pioneer.

6:30 a.m.The Butte Fire east of Jackson continues to spread in all directions. It's grown to nearly 15,000 acres in just two days.

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. 

"A substantial firefighting force on this one due to the very steep terrain and difficult access," says Brice Bennett, with Cal Fire. "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.