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Fire crews make progress on blaze burning near Foresthill

By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Firefighters have begun mop-up work along the north and south sides of the American River Complex fire burning roughly 13 miles east of Foresthill. The blaze, which has charred more than 19,000 acres in the American River canyons since igniting three weeks ago, is now 55 percent contained. “The fire has seen very little growth, but there are some hot spots in the interior, especially along the east edge,” said Betsy Ballard, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. “The weather has been good, allowing the firefighters to continue direct attack on the remaining hotspots especially within 150 feet of the northern fireline west to east from Texas Hill Spring to near Big Valley Canyon.” Hazardous trees within the area will be removed for the safety of fire personnel as crews conduct mop-up work, which also began on the southern fireline, from Humbug ridge on the west to Canada ridge on the east. Three, 20-person hotshot crews, supported by helicopter water drops and engines, continued fire-fighting efforts west of Big Valley Canyon on the northeast edge of the fire line, and five hotshot crews continued direct attack north from Canada Ridge toward the American River Canyon on the southeast edge of the fire. Hotshots are highly trained crews, usually assigned to cut fire lines by hand and prepared to travel long distances from one wildfire to another as needed. “The fire hasn’t really moved too much, it hasn’t been as hot,” Ballard said Thursday. “The interior is burning especially when the temperature goes up and the humidity goes down, but crews are con-tinuing to mop up.” The blaze started out as two separate fires June 21 when lightning strikes sparked hundreds of fires in Northern California. The Government Springs Fire and the Westville Fire grew to burn more than 18,000 acres before jumping the American River late last week to combine and gain roughly 2,000 acres on the east end. Ballard said no structures were threatened as of Thursday afternoon. More than 800 firefighters are on scene and resources include 18 crews, eight helicopters, 44 en-gines, 10 dozers and 14 water tenders. Crews from Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and personnel from across the nation are helping battle the blaze. Several area and road closures remained in effect Thursday. The Euchre Bar, American Eagle, Italian Bar and Bearcroft Trail (from the trailhead to the North Fork of the American River), the American River Trail (east of the Mumford Bar Trail toward the Sailor Flat Trail), Mumford Bar Trailhead Campground and Mumford Bar Trail are closed. Texas Hill Road from Fulda Creek to the Junction of Forest Road No. 38 also remained closed. Tunnel Mills, North Fork and Onion Valley campgrounds are closed. And Foresthill Divide Road from China Wall Duncan Y; Robinson Flat east of Soda Springs Road; and Sugar Pine Boat Ramp also remained closed. The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at jennan@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- More information: Fire update meeting What: Update on the American River Complex open to the public When: 7 p.m. Friday Where: Community Center in Alta For more information call (530) 389-9251.