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'It's ripping': Dangerous wildfire in NorCal triggers evacuations

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

A dangerous and fast-growing wildfire that exploded Tuesday afternoon near South Yuba State Park in Northern California's Nevada County, about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, grew to 769 acres on Wednesday, Cal Fire said. 

The Rices Fire has destroyed four structures with another 520 threatened, Cal Fire said in its Wednesday morning incident report. 

Cal Fire said the fire is exhibiting active behavior with wind-driven runs and spotting. "It is burning in dormant brush, hardwood slash and brush," Cal Fire said. "Steep and rugged terrain, critically dry and receptive fuel beds, active area for fire history and drought stressed trees are leading to the observed fire behavior."

The Nevada County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday evening that all evacuations remain in place. You can find evacuation information at ZoneHaven. Birchville, Sweetland, French Corral, Bridgeport, Rice's Crossing and the Buttermilk area are under evacuation orders. The communities of Sebastopol, North San Juan, New School, Robinson, Greater Tyler Foote, northern Purdon Road, Millhouse, Montezuma and Central Purdon are under evacuation warnings. 

The Rices Fire ignited at Rices Crossing and Cranston roads, south of Dobbins, at 2 p.m. Tuesday. By 3:30 p.m., the blaze was 100 acres with reports of one structure destroyed. By 4 p.m., Cal Fire said it was 350 acres with multiple spot fires, and at 6:30 p.m. it was 520 acres with zero containment. 

A tanker does an air drop on the Rices Fire near North San Juan in Nevada County, Calif., on June 28, 2022.


Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon said at a Tuesday evening press conference that about 350 buildings homes and other buildings were under evacuation orders. The sheriff's office set up a temporary evacuation point at the Madelyn Helling Library in Nevada City. The Nevada County Fairgrounds is open to receive animals.

Birchville Road at Highway 49 and Pleasant Valley Road at Bridgeport are closed.

Wildfire photographer Michael Steinberg was almost at the scene of the blaze when he posted on Twitter, "It's ripping." Steinberg posted an image showing a large smoke cloud rising from mountains in the distance in another tweet.

Re routed. Now 40 minutes out. On hwy 20 pic.twitter.com/aa1xojHDl5

— Michael Steinberg (@MichaelWX18) June 28, 2022

The Feather River Air Quality Management District said winds were blowing in a southwesterly direction on Tuesday afternoon and blowing the smoke farther into Nevada County. "Winds are forecasted to shift to east overnight. Wildfire smoke impacts could be possible in Yuba County tonight," the management district said.

The Rices Fire started south of Dobbins in Nevada County at 2 p.m. on June 28 and had grown to 510 acres by 6:30 p.m. that evening.

Cal Fire

UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain wrote on Twitter: "It's hot and breezy in the fire zone, and large-diameter fuels (i.e., dead and down trees as well as heavier brush) are extremely dry right now."

Live footage from @kcranews depicting fast-moving & aggressively spotting #RicesFire. It's making major runs amid hot & breezy conditions, with veg moisture at/near record dry levels. There are quite a few homes intermingled w/vegetation in area. #CAfire https://t.co/Z91dpHALzG

— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) June 28, 2022

Get updates on the fire from Cal Fire's Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit.

Cal Fire said the Rices Fire ignited near Rices Crossing Cranston roads south of Dobbins, Calif.

Cal Fire

The cause of the fire is under investigation. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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