Jackson, California. – Evacuation orders expanded Tuesday for remote California communities near AIt might have been erupted by fireworks or a 4th of July barbecue in a mountainous area that is a major tourist destination.
The Electra Fire broke out in the Sierra Nevada Gold Country on Monday afternoon and tripled in size to about 6.1 square miles. It was 5% contained on Tuesday night.
Fire officials said the blaze was going on short and steep inclines.
“The prevalence is not the same as yesterday, but it is still spreading,” said Gary Redman, Sheriff of Amador County. He said firefighters are working to keep the flames confined to the uninhabited valley areas.
The combined mandatory eviction orders and warnings affected up to 700 residents in Amador County and 300 to 400 people in Calaveras County, Redman said. Share Sheriff’s Office Map showing evacuation areas Online, evacuation centers have been set up for people and animals in the affected area.
Redman said the fire started in a recreation area that was packed with people, forcing 85 to 100 people to celebrate the holiday at a river to take shelter at the Pacific Gas and Electric facility. All were later safely evacuated.
Milka Mikula of Valley Springs, who went to the river with her husband, 5-year-old daughter, and first child, a 1-year-old said.
She told KCRA-TV they had to wait about six hours before they could finally go home.
“I just wanted to go home,” Mikola said. “I just wanted to get out of there with my kids. I was shivering really, really bad for a while.”
Redman said the cause of the fire was unknown but it started in the Fox Beach area of the North Fork Mukiloman River. That may point to fireworks or barbecue as a possible cause, he said.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said more than 100 fire engines, 1,200 firefighters and 14 helicopters were dispatched to the blaze, posing a threat to energy infrastructure. The terrain is described as steep and rugged.
Cal Fire has activated the Incident Management Team for Fire. Cal Fire said the teams “are made up of trained personnel who provide operations management and support for large-scale and expanding incidents.”
One firefighter from the local fire protection district suffered burns, Redman said.
Vox Beach is located about 55 miles east of Sacramento in the heart of the Sierra Nevada region saturated with the history of the mid-19th century gold rush.
Several other small fires were burning in the state.