The Constantia AlertWildfire camera captured this image of the Loyalton Fire Saturday afternoon, Aug. 15.

Aug. 18: Loyalton Fire grows to over 44,000 acres; now 30 percent contained

UPDATE 9 a.m. Aug. 18: The Loyalton Fire, which originated east of Loyalton and southwest of Mount Ina Coolbrith on Aug. 14, is burning north and east adjacent to the areas of Beckwourth Pass and Hallelujah Junction. The fire is now estimated at 44,147 acres and 30 percent contained (this percentage was upgraded at 9 a.m.). The cause of the fire was a lightning strike.

Last night the fire made a run at the town of Loyalton and the residents of the Loyalton Skilled Nursing Facility were evacuated to Eastern Plumas Health Care’s facility in Portola. Residents in Sierra Brooks were also advised to leave.

These are the current evacuation orders as of this morning, Aug. 18:

All Evacuation Orders in Lassen County have been lifted. Residents are allowed to return to their homes.

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An advisory evacuation order is in effect for the area of Sierra Brooks. (downgraded from Mandatory.)

Mandatory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for Balls Canyon Road, Long Valley Road, and Copperfield.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the City of Loyalton and homes on the south side of Hwy 49 west of Loyalton to Lombardi Point.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the areas of Cold Springs and Bordertown.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the areas of Chilcoot and Vinton.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the area of Hwy 49 and 70 south to Loyalton, and to the east side of Hwy 49.

Road Closures:

Hwy 49 is closed at Railroad Avenue in Loyalton.

Hwy 395 is currently open.

Hwy 70 is currently open, but under advisory as fire activity could warrant another closure.

Last evening the CHP reported that there was a lot of traffic in the Loyalton area. The public is advised to consider alternative travel routes. Please drive slowly with headlights on and yield to emergency personnel.

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UPDATE 3:45 p.m.
, Aug. 17: Following are the latest evacuation notices:

All Evacuation Orders within Lassen County have been lifted. Residents are allowed to return to their homes.

Effective immediately, Mandatory Evacuation Orders have been put in place for the east side of Smithneck Road in Sierra Brooks.

Mandatory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for Balls Canyon Road, Long Valley Road, and Copperfield.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the areas of Cold Springs and Bordertown.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the areas of Chilcoot and Vinton.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the area of Hwy 49 and 70 south to Loyalton, and to the east side of Hwy 49.

Advisory Evacuation Orders remain in effect for the area of Sierra Brooks, other than the mandatory area mentioned above.

All Evacuation Orders in Lassen County have been lifted. Residents are allowed to return to their homes.

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Road Closures:

Hwy 395 is currently open.

Hwy 70 is currently open and under and advisory evacuation.

Hwy 49 is currently open.

 

UPDATE 8:25 a.m., Aug. 17: The Tahoe National Forest announced that thus far five homes and six outbuildings have been destroyed in the blaze. The cause of the Loyalton Fire is lightning; previously it had been listed as under investigation.

The following is from the forest’s morning briefing:

The fire burned actively overnight, showing considerable spread on the west and south sides. Crews made good progress, however, especially around the long finger that moved southeast yesterday west of Highway 395 and threatened the areas around Bordertown and Cold Springs. There is now fire line around that area, and forward progress has been stopped as of now. All evacuation orders remain in effect today.

Day shift crews will continue the work from overnight, tying the line constructed around the finger back into the main body of the fire. They will use indirect (away from the fire’s main edge) and direct (against the fire’s edge) tactics to continue suppression.
Ten helicopters are currently assigned to the fire, with most flying out of the Truckee Airport. Fixed-wing aircraft is available to the fire on an as-needed basis.

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Fire activity has picked up considerably in California (and the country) over the last few days, and with many new starts around the state, resources are being shared and use to their best effectiveness.


UPDATE 8 a.m., Aug. 17:
According to the latest information provided, the fire was active overnight, especially on the south and west sides, but good progress was made on the finger running to the south parallel to Highway 395.

The fire is at 36,295 acres and 5 percent contained.

This is the latest on evacuation orders:

Mandatory evacuation from Red Rock Road south to Highway 70 has been lifted.

A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Red Rock Road (California) and Hwy 395 to the State line.

A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents on Scott Road on the north side of Hwy 70.

A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Hwy 49 and 70 east to Hwy 70.

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Effective immediately, Mandatory Evacuation Orders have been issued for Balls Canyon Road, Long Valley Road, Bordertown and Copperfield.

Evacuation Advisory

The north side of Hwy 70 and the east side of Hwy 395.

Cold Springs

Road Closures

Highway 70 is now open and under and advisory evacuation.

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The Tahoe National Forest is reporting that the Loyalton Fire is now at 20,000 acres as of this morning, Aug. 16 and 0 percent contained.

According to the update that the forest released this morning, ground resources made positive progress yesterday afternoon backed by multiple helicopters and air tankers dropping water and retardant. The Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) made numerous drops in the early evening. VLATs are converted DC-10s or 747s that supply nearly 20,000 gallons of retardant per drop. Air resources will continue support today as conditions allow.

The Loyalton Fire displayed active behavior throughout the night. Firefighters worked through the night extinguishing spot fires outside the current fire perimeter and protecting threatened structures. Extreme fire behavior has been displayed at times, especially when overhead thunderstorm cells cause downdrafts and dangerous fire conditions.

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The Loyalton Fire is burning north and east adjacent to the areas of Beckwourth Pass and Hallelujah Junction.  The fire is burning in timber, sagebrush and tall grass.

Though this morning’s report did not include a mention of structures that were destroyed, a Plumas News reporter who lives in the vicinity of Scott Road, said that at least three homes were destroyed including her neighbor’s.

Red Flag Warnings are in place throughout the immediate area today due to thunderstorms, strong outflow winds, and dry vegetation.

Evacuations: Effective immediately, Lassen County Sheriff’s Office has issued Evacuation Orders for the following areas:

  • Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Red Rock Road and Hwy 395 to the State line.
  • Effective immediately, Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents on Scott Road on the north side of Hwy 70.
  • Effective immediately, a Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for residents from the intersection of Hwy 49 and 70 east to Hwy 70 and Hwy 395. Hwy 395 south to the state line. This encompasses everything south of Hwy 70 and west of 395.
  • Effective immediately, an Evacuation Advisory has been issued for the north side of Hwy 70 and the east side of Hwy 395.
  • People need to leave the evacuation area. Please be courteous to your neighbors and use caution due to first responders in the area. Evacuees needing shelter should call the Lassen County Emergency Shelter number (530)250-9088.
  • People with special needs who will need help evacuating should call (530)257-6121 and let Lassen County Sheriff’s Office know what assistance you will need. Deputies are going door to door in the area to notify residents.

Closures: Highway 70 closed from Highway 49 to Highway 395. Hwy 395 is currently open to one-way and/or escorted traffic in the Hallelujah Junction/Stateline. Be advised to consider alternative travel routes. Please drive slow, use headlights, and yield to emergency personnel.

Animals – both large and small – can be evacuated to the Plumas Sierra County Fairgrounds in Quincy. Call Willow at 251-7150; Gabriel at 916-316-7609; or Lauren at 927-8018.

The Loyalton Fire, burning on the Tahoe National Forest, began Aug. 14, east of Loyalton in Sierra County. At midday Saturday it was reported at 2,300 acres, but by the evening it had exploded to more than 15,000 acres, even producing a tornado.