NEVADA COUNTY (CBS13) — A grass fire prompted evacuations for nearly 4,000 residents in rural Nevada County Monday.
The Nevada County Sheriff’s Office says the Jones fire, which started around 3 a.m., is burning off Jones Bar Road between the Brush Creek Drainage Area to the south of Yuba River Canyon and north of Nevada City.
By Monday night, 340 acres have burned and the fire is 0% contained Cal Fire says. The fire is burning towards the south east on steep terrain that’s making it hard for firefighters to get to. Cal Fire says the wildfire has the potential to burn between 400-500 acres.
— Velena Jones (@velenajones) August 18, 2020
The county says 3,891 residents were ordered to evacuate Monday. An additional 11,646 residents were given an evacuation warning in the surrounding areas.
American Red Cross Disaster Responders are in the process of setting up an evacuation center at Ready Springs School in Penn Valley. Animals that need to be evacuated can be taken to the Nevada County Fairgrounds.
Additional evacuation points have also been established at Cottage Hill School in Grass Valley and Alder Creek Middle School in Truckee. You can find the latest evacuation orders on the Nevada County website.
“We want people to be ready with their to-go kits, be ready to evacuate,” Cal Fire spokesperson Lynnette Round said.
As Cal Fire works to contain flames raging around the state, they urge Californians to be prepared.
Nevada County residence, the drift smoke you are seeing and smelling is coming from the Jones Fire Jones Bar Road and Newtown Road off Highway Grass Valley Air Attack Base crews have loaded over 76,000 gallons of retardant today while fighting the Jones fire north of Grass Valley pic.twitter.com/BW3z1d8BEq
— CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit (@CALFIRENEU) August 17, 2020
Grass Valley School District canceled school for Tuesday, due to “the uncertainties with the Jones Fire.” All schools and programs including Lyman Gilmore, Scotten, Bell Hill Academy, Grass Valley Charter, and Our Kids Place will be closed.
Cal Fire says 14 fires started in the overnight hours due to lightning strikes. Crews were able to contain 13 of those fires but the Jones Fire continued to grow. Around 1 p.m. Monday, Cal Fire said the wind shifted up toward Grass Valley.
In addition to the challenges of the rugged terrain, a Cal Fire spokesperson said crews were working in temperatures upward of 108 degrees.
Fires forced evacuations in several counties Monday. The Loyalton Fire in Sierra County near Tahoe burned more than 36,000 acres and two fires burned in Napa County, while the Lake Fire rages in Southern California. All are putting a strain on resources.
“What we can do is ask for aid from other agencies. We can also ask for out of state resources, which I said it is a dynamic and fluid situation, so I’m sure we will be asking for those resources,” Round said.
The California Office of Emergency Services says additional state help is already on they way from the sky.
“Just today at the governor’s direction, the California National Guard approved five additional helicopters to go and dispatch and drop water. We are pushing and looking for alternatives to make sure we have just enough firefighting capacity as we need,” Cal OES spokesperson Brian Furgerson said.
Firefighters are also working to replace help they usually get from inmate fire crews after coronavirus impacts limited the 2,200 inmates on the fire line. The state is now allowing for an additonal 850 seasonal firefighters on the frontlines.
“We have hired extra firefighters, we are staffing extra dozers, we have temporary hand fighter one hand crews and we want to make sure that our initial attacks are very aggressive so we can keep these fires at a small amount,” Round said.