NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. — Improving weather helped firefighters stop the spread of the Rices Fire in Nevada County that forced several hundred people from their homes and injured seven firefighters, authorities said Thursday.
The Rices Fire remained at 904 acres while containment increased to 20%, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.
Firefighters were aided by cooler weather and an increase in humidity, Cal Fire said. However, the topography and steep terrain poses some challenges, said Cal Fire Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit Deputy Chief Jim Hudson.
"On the eastern side of the fire, adjacent to Pleasant Valley Road and northwest of French Corral, fire crews have been able to begin mop up. We've seen no growth in the fire's perimeter there," he said Thursday. "We'll continue to work aggressively throughout the night and tomorrow throughout the evening."
The wildfire began with a building fire Tuesday in Nevada County near the Yuba River. It burned that building and three nearby outbuildings, fire officials said. The fire burned down to the Yuba River but did not cross over into neighboring Yuba County.
Seven firefighters suffered dehydration and other heat-related injuries, authorities said.
Evacuation orders had been issued for 250 homes in small nearby communities but some of those orders were lifted Thursday as firefighters made progress.
"We believe based on an estimate that this will help us to get about 250 people back into their homes," said Captain Sam Brown, with the Nevada County Sheriff's Office.
About 132 animals have also been given refuge at the county fairgrounds.
"Our animal (evacuation) team has been working extremely hard to help bring in animals, and then also care for them while they're here. Hopefully, this will help get a boost in getting people to get their animals back home," Brown said.
- Acres: 904
- Containment: 20%
- Firefighter Injuries: 13
- Civilian injuries: 1
June 30 Update
Evacuation orders have been downgraded to evacuation warnings in Nevada County zones E329 and E383.
Residents in Nevada County zone E029 along Rices Crossing, Troost Trail, Den Court, Mark Court and Cranston Road are still under evacuation orders.
Live updates on evacuations can be found through the Zonehaven map below.
- Madelyn Helling Library at 980 Helling Way
- Nevada County Fairgrounds at McCourtney Road open to animal shelters
- Pleasant Valley Road at Birchville
- Pleasant Valley Road at Bridgeport
- Birchville Road at Hwy. 49
- Pleasant Valley Road between Birchville Road and Bridgeport is open to residents only, with valid ID - this will be monitored by Grass Valley California Highway Patrol officers.
According to Cal Fire, the 2021 fire season started earlier than previous years, but also ended earlier, as well. January 2021 saw just under 1,200 acres burned from nearly 300 wildfires. Fires picked up in the summer when the Dixie Fire burned in five Northern California counties — Butte, Plumas, Shasta, Lassen and Tehama. The Dixie Fire started on July 13 and wasn't contained until Oct. 25, burning nearly 1 million acres. It has since become the second-largest wildfire in state history and the largest non-complex fire.
Overall, 2.5 million acres were burned in 2021 from 8,835 wildfires. Over 3,600 structures were destroyed and 3 people were killed.
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, and 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 knowing 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, visit 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.
What questions do you have about the latest wildfires? If you're impacted by the wildfires, what would you like to know? Text the ABC10 team at (916) 321-3310.