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Containment shrinks as fire jumps Lake Oroville
9:30 p.m. Wednesday
Containment of the North Complex Fire continues to shrink as the fire jumped to the south and west sides of Lake Oroville Wednesday night.
Containment is down to 24 percent as the fire crept up to 252,163 acres, according to Plumas National Forest. The fire had been at 38 percent containment Wednesday morning.
The fire is burning along the east side of South Table Mountain and on both sides of the Feather River northeast of Oroville.
Evacuee: ‘We always knew this day was coming’
7:45 p.m. Wednesday
Wildfires aren’t anything new to Catherine Conrad. The 61-year-old Berry Creek resident said her property is surrounded by the Plumas National Forest, so she practiced preemptive fire safety on her half-acre plot and mobile home. It still might not have worked.
“We always knew this day was coming, but still we tried to protect our property and clear around,” Conrad said. “It doesn’t matter. This one was too fierce.”
Conrad is one of thousands who have been evacuated due to the Bear Fire. After seeing a nearby home burning on social media, she fears hers is likely lost as well.
Without access to her home, she spent Tuesday night in her SUV an Oroville park.
Earlier that day, she left to get gas when she got wind that there might be an evacuation on the way, but by the time she tried to return to grab her things and Siberian husky Nori, the roadway back to her home was blocked off.
“I really contemplated, ‘I’m just going to run through (the road block) and they’re going to chase me down,’” she said.
Fortunately, a friend had picked up Conrad’s dog on their way out. She’s trying to stay optimistic.
“I’m going to miss all that stuff at my house,” Conrad said. “There’s 30 years of stuff and pictures and clothes and everything but the truth is I’m alive.”
After also being evacuated for the 2018 Camp Fire, the threat of fire danger could force Conrad away from the community she’s lived in since 1992.
“I’m probably not staying in California (considering) the amount of money I spent just to live in an environment that is so unstable,” she said. “I better find another job so I can pay to clean up my house, but I can’t live in the woods anymore.”
Three people killed in Bear Fire
6:40 p.m. Wednesday
Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea confirmed Wednesday that three people have been killed as a result of the Bear Fire.
Two were found at the same location, one at another location. He declined to say where the bodies were found because they have not been identified and family has not been informed.
Currently, 20,000 Butte County residents are under evacuation orders or evacuation warnings. Two thousand structures have been damaged or destroyed while 23,356 structures are threatened in Butte County.
Ninety families have been accommodated in shelters and 140 families are waiting to be sheltered. Because of COVID-19, traditional shelters are not being set up.
Red Cross is working with local officials to temporarily house people in hotels, some in areas as far away as Sacramento.
Due to COVID-19, Red Cross searching nearby counties for evacuee hotel rooms
4:25 p.m. Wednesday
Some of the people who evacuated the Bear Fire could soon be on the move again.
The Butte County Fairground in Gridley is serving as the county’s main evacuation center, and more than 120 people had come into the outdoor site as of noon Wednesday, said Amy Travis, the deputy director of emergency services for Glenn County who is in Chico assisting with the response to the North Complex.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, Red Cross workers are searching nearby counties for hotel rooms for evacuees.
“It’s very difficult to find enough hotel rooms, especially close by,” Travis said. “So (evacuees) are having to travel some distance to be placed in overnight accommodations.”
Travis said the Red Cross is checking for hotels in places in Glenn, Colusa and Tehama counties.
Travis said people in RVs or those who can sleep in their cars can stay overnight within the Butte County Fairground.
In years past, some indoor evacuation centers have provided cots, something less feasible when Butte County has over 2,400 COVID-19 infections, including 323 active cases.
“There’s a nurse on sight at the temporary evacuation point and they’re providing screening for all the evacuees coming in,” Travis said. “If any have COVID symptoms, they’re being isolated.”
Incident command center relying on generators after power shut off
3 p.m. Wednesday
The incident command center for the North Complex Fire is operating with an extra hurdle after power was shut off to the center.
The incident command center is located at the Plumas County Fairgrounds in Quincy. PG&E shut off the power as part of a public safety power shut off.
Officials are working with only generator power.
“We had a little bit of warning so we got some generators in, so we are still able to communicate to our crews,” said Bruce Prud’homme, public information officer for California Incident Management Team Four.
Plumas County issues a mandatory evacuation order for Bucks Lake area
1:40 p.m. Wednesday
Plumas County has issued a mandatory evacuation order for the Bucks Lake area from Highway 162 at the Plumas and Butte county lines east to Bucks Lake Road at Big Creek Road, including Mille Creek Campground and all recreational facilities in the Bucks Lake area.
Anyone with shelter needs is asked to contact Plumas Social Services at 530-283-6350.
A virtual community meeting set for residents impacted by the fire is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at www.facebook.com/usfsplumas.
Official: Fire measurement challenging due to mechanical issues
11:30 a.m. Wednesday
Fire officials are having challenges getting accurate readings on the size of the North Complex Fire, according to North Complex Fire Public Information Officer Lisa Cox.
Cox said aircraft the monitor the size of the fire have been grounded with mechanical issues and wind.
Cox said “there is a threat” to the community of Paradise, which burned during the 2018 Camp Fire.
An evacuation advisory has been put into effect for Meadow Valley from Bucks Lake Road at Big Creek Road east to Snake Lake Road, as well as Feather River Canyon and the community of Belden.
Evacuation order issued for Yuba County
11 a.m. Wednesday
A voluntary evacuation order has been issued for Yuba County due to the threat from the growing North Complex Fire.
The Yuba County Sheriff’s Office is calling for a voluntary evacuation of the Oregon House/Dobbins region north of Marysville Road between French Town Road, Indiana Ranch Road and Forsythe Road.
Evacuees are asked to head south to Marsyville, with a staging area at Yuba Sutter Fairgrounds in Yuba City.
Sierra foothill communities under evacuation orders
10:50 a.m. Wednesday
Multiple foothill communities are under emergency evacuation orders as the North Complex Fire burns between Butte and Plumas Counties.
The communities of Forbestown, Woodleaf, Clipper Mills and Strawberry Valley, Berry Creek, Kelly Ridge, Copley Acres and Brush Creek are under mandatory evacuation orders, according to the Plumas National Forest.
The fire has burned more than 254,000 acres between the Plumas County seat of Quincy and is spreading toward the Butte County seat of Oroville.
The fire is just 38 percent contained.
Evacuation centers have been established at:
- Butte County: Gridley Fairgrounds, 100 E. Hazel St., Gridley
- Church of the Nazarene, 2238 Monte Vista Ave., Oroville
- Yuba County: Dobbins Alcouffee Center, 9185 Marysville Rd., Oregon House;
- Yuba Sutter Fairgrounds, 442 Franklin Ave., Yuba City
Mandatory evacuation orders
Mandatory evacuation orders are in effect for:
- Cherokee Road at Hwy. 70 south to Thompson Flat Cemetery Road;
- All areas east to Lake Oroville;
- From the northern Yuba County border from Strawberry Valley to Forbestown, south to Rackerby and Brownsville-Challenge, over to the Bullards Bar Reservoir;
- Miners Ranch Road at Hwy. 162 and Oro-Bangor Highway, including Bangor and part of the Mt. Ida area; and
- La Porte Road, New York Flat Road north of Brownsville to the Plumas and Butte county lines.
Evacuees are asked to head south to avoid the fire zone
Evacuation warnings are in effect for:
- The north side of Hwy. 70 near Lower Concow
- Paradise Zone 14, east of Pentz Road
- Hwy. 70 at Garden Dr. to Lower Honcut Rd., from Lower Honcut Road east to Bangor and everything east to the immediate evacuation orders
The North Complex Fire is located on the Mt. Hough Ranger District on the Plumas National Forest. It is comprised of multiple lightning fires — including the Bear, Sheep and Claremont — that ignited nearly a month ago during an Aug. 17 lightning storm.
There are currently 1,352 personnel battling the blaze of brush, timber and forest litter.
Fire behavior is expected to moderate as winds decrease Wednesday.
Amy Alonzo covers the outdoors, recreation and environment for Nevada and Lake Tahoe. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 741-8588. Here’s how you can support ongoing coverage and local journalism.