7 p.m. July 3 update: East Fork fire at 750 acres: China Spring evacuation on hold for now

A firefighting helicopter drops water on the East Fork Fire burning in Alpine County.

A firefighting helicopter drops water on the East Fork Fire burning in Alpine County.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

The East Fork Fire grew another 100 acres to 750 after strong  outflow winds from a thunderstorm cell passing over the East Fork Fire on Saturday afternoon set the fire burning in all directions. "Although retardant and handlines on the northern and western edges of the fire held the fire through the wind event today, the fire moved further east up the Carson River corridor," fire officials said in their 7 p.m. update. Additional crews and overhead support are expected to arrive tomorrow on Independence Day. Aircraft were critical to fighting the fire on Saturday with five big air tankers and 10 helicopters aiding seven hand crews and three engines. The entire force comprised of 250 personnel. Fire officials alerted both China Spring Youth Camp and the Washoe Tribe’s Hung-a-lel-ti Woodfords Colony there was a possibility they might have to evacuate.

The Washoe indicated they would stand fast, while East Fork Fire Protection District officials sent units to China Spring to determine whether an evacuation was necessary.

East Fork reported the fire was still roughly 2.5 miles from the camp and by 5:45 p.m. had worked out a trigger point when they would evacuate.

Around a dozen staff and youth are currently at the camp. They indicated they could evacuate in around 15 minutes should it become necessary.

In a separate incident, a man was severely burned around 4:10 p.m. when a motorhome caught fire and was destroyed.

Highway 88 was closed between the California state line and Kimmerling Road while emergency workers transported the victim and knocked down the fire.

The fire spread to the field and a power pole, knocking out power to 1,966 NV Energy customers around Minden.

Electricity was restored to all but around 100 customers by around 6 p.m.

The victim was transported by ambulance with severe burns to the Sunridge Fire Station and transferred to a helicopter to be taken to Renown Regional Medical Center.

4 p.m. update China Spring Youth Camp may evacuate as the East Fork Fire has shifted direction and is burning northeast toward the camp. Camp officials reported hearing from the Forest Service command that they may have to clear out. Local fire officials are discussing the issue to see if an evacuation is necessary. The Fire is burning 3-4 miles southwest of the camp. Alpine firefighters are setting up a kitchen and command center at the top of Turtle Rock Park to help feed the nearly 200 firefighters working the blaze. Meanwhile, firefighters are responding to a motorhome that caught fire along Highway 88 south of Kimmerling around 4:10 p.m. Emergency personnel are closing the highway at Kimmerling and further south so Care Flight  helicopter can land to pick up a burn victim injured in the fire. The fire, which spread to power poles and the wild land along the highway, was quickly doused. Due to the East Fork Fire, Airport Road and access to Indian Creek Reservoir are closed until further notice, according to the Alpine County Sheriff’s Office.

The fire grew to 650 acres, according to the latest update from the U.S. Forest Service.

Small firefighting aircraft often use the Alpine County Airport to conduct operations.

The Alpine County Sheriff’s Office also ordered rafters not to launch any rafts or watercraft in the East Fork of the Carson River from Markleeville because there is fire on both sides of the river.

“We know this is going to change some people's plans for this holiday weekend,” Alpine said in its Facebook Post. “We are sorry, but your safety is more important.”


Previous Story: Containment of the East Fork Fire burning southeast of Gardnerville could occur as soon as Wednesday, according to National Interagency Coordination Center situation report issued Saturday morning.

According to the report, the fire cost $800,000 for the Humboldt-Toiyabe Forest to manage.

Six hand crews, an engine and a helicopter consisting of 164 personnel have a line around a tenth of the fire, which is burning in timber and large fallen logs.

No structures have been lost, though they are threatened, according to fire officials.

The fire has exhibited extreme behavior with uphill runs and group torching.

Officials have confirmed that lightning started the fire in an isolated spot along the Carson River north of Indian Creek Reservoir.

Smoke from the fire caused unhealthy air quality for a second morning in a row, with the air quality index hitting 159 1 a.m. at the Gardnerville Ranchos gauge. Air quality improved a bit toward dawn, according to the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection.

That and a power outage affecting around 600 NV Energy Customers across western Carson Valley and another 2,000 in Carson City reduced the ability to use air conditioners to cool off homes and reduce the smoke.

Two fires in Carson City contributed to the smoke. A fire on Prison Hill reported at 4:45 p.m. Friday quickly grew to 200 acres, according to the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch.

Firefighters from East Fork and Tahoe Douglas fire districts responded to help douse that and another fire in Brunswick Canyon that was 30 acres at last report.

A rare overnight red flag warning for critical fire danger has been issued starting 11 p.m. tonight and lasting until 11 a.m. Independence Day.

Fast moving thunderstorms are expected to bring dry lightning and gusty 40 mph winds.

“Little to no rainfall with these storms will promote a higher potential for multiple new fire starts from lightning, and may combine with strong outflow winds to cause a fire to rapidly grow in size and intensity before first responders can contain them.”


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