COLFAX, Calif. — There was little growth for the River Fire as of Thursday evening as firefighters notched 15% containment on the blaze. Officials said two civilians and one firefighter were injured as the firefight continues.
On Wednesday afternoon, the River Fire broke out off of Milk Ranch Road and Bear River Campground Road, north of Applegate. The wildfire has burned 2,600 acres as portions of Nevada and Placer counties remain under evacuation orders Thursday evening.
ABC10 reporter Lena Howland reported that there are about 5,200 evacuees in both Nevada and Placer counties. In Nevada County alone, Cal Fire said that about 4,300 residents are under evacuation orders and about 5,375 are under evacuation warnings.
The wildfire has moved away from Colfax but it left behind countless burning embers. Donny Dunn is one of the few in the area that caught a glimpse of the flames before evacuating. He had just enough time to grab his dog, and his motor home before the fire crested the canyon below his house.
“Flames, they are something you can’t realize until you see it in front of you,” he said.
Dunn’s home is about a mile from Colfax High School at the end of Pineview Drive. His home was spared but, at least four of his neighbor homes burned leaving only metal roofing and ash.
His neighbor Aaron Asher was not so lucky. For most of the day, he rummaged through the charred remains where his house once stood.
“It was our dream home. Had the nice view and back patio,” said Asher.
Asher's wife was home with his three kids. She snapped a few pictures of the fire racing towards the their before she evacuated. Their neighbor tried to stop the fire with a garden hose, but he too was forced to leave.
“It came up the hill and was so fast that he ran from it,” Asher said.
Small spot fires are all that remain in the Colfax area. Fire crews are moving from neighborhood to neighborhood dousing smoking logs and debris. Many of the roads are not safe and down powerlines and trees are either blocking the road or could fall at any time. Roadblocks are keeping many residents form going back to their homes, and it's unclear when those roads will reopen.
Cal Fire said that most of the structures threatened or destroyed have been residential and mostly in Colfax. They don't expect any repopulation of homes today.
In Cal Fire's 7 p.m. update, officials said cooler temperatures helped crews make good progress on containment lines around the fire and the additional resources for the fire helped them keep fire spread to a minimum.
The goal for the night will be to strengthen containment lines and provide structure protection and tactical patrol throughout the night, according to Cal Fire. However, winds and high temperatures on Friday could bring potential for increased fire behavior.
Damage assessment is underway, but Cal Fire has confirmed at least 76 structures have been destroyed and 20 have been damaged.
The Placer County Water Agency is asking customers to limit their water usage to only essential needs. They are "working with fire officials to ensure that they continue to have water from our system to protect homes and businesses threatened by the #RiverFire," according to a tweet. Everyone in the greater Colfax area is asked to stop non-essential water use and if anyone evacuates to turn off their water.
Placer County Public Health and the Placer County Air Pollution Control District issued a joint air quality advisory for the area due to the smoke impacts from the River Fire through Sunday, Aug. 8. Learn more about the advisory by clicking here.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said today that California was able to secure a Fire Management Assistance Grant (FMAG) for extra resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help fight the River Fire.
The FMAG will allow local and state agencies fighting the fire to apply for 75% reimbursement of their eligible fire suppression costs. Cal OES will also provide "rapid financial assistance" to those impacted by the fire.
Accounts to follow for latest information:
Gallery: Photos show destruction from River Fire in Colfax
Bear River High School: 11130 Magnolia Road, Grass Valley
Auburn Regional Park: 3770 Richardson Drive, Auburn
Animal Shelter: Nevada County Fairgrounds 11228 McCourtney Rd, Grass Valley, CA 95949.
Animal Shelter: Placer County Animal Services Center 11232 B Ave, Auburn, CA 95603
For Wednesday's updates, click HERE
Maps of evacuations
Map of wildfire area
ABC10 reporter updates from the fire
According to Cal Fire, 2020 was one of the most severe fire seasons on record as 9,917 wildfires burned 4.2 million acres. Over 9,000 structures were destroyed, and 31 people (civilians and firefighters) were killed.
California also experienced its first "Gigafire" because of the August Complex Fire, burning over 1 million acres by itself. Four of California's top five largest wildfires in state history happened in 2020.
If you live in a wildfire-prone zone, Cal Fire suggests creating a defensible space around your home. Defensible space is an area around a building in which vegetation and other debris are completely cleared. At least 100 feet is recommended.
The Department of Homeland Security suggests assembling an emergency kit that has important documents, N95 respirator masks, supplies to grab with you if you’re forced to leave at a moment’s notice. The agency also suggests signing up for local warning system notifications and know your community’s evacuation plans best to prepare yourself and your family in cases of wildfires.
Some counties use Nixle alerts to update residents on severe weather, wildfires, and other news. To sign up, www.nixle.com or text your zip code to 888777 to start receiving alerts.
PG&E customers can also subscribe to alerts via text, email, or phone call. If you're a PG&E customer, visit the Profile & Alerts section of your account to register.
Watch more from ABC10: California wildfires | Dixie and River Fire updates for August 04, 2021