Crews Work Through Night To Contain Wildfire

Monday, September 10th 2007, 7:07 am
By: News On 6

GREENVILLE, Calif. (AP) _ Crews worked through the night to fight a wildfire that has blackened 62,000 acres in the northeast Sierra Nevada and was only 15 percent contained.

Shifting winds sent smoke from the growing wildfire heading back toward the San Joaquin Valley and San Francisco Bay area Sunday, authorities said.

The massive smoke plumes that had prompted haze and health warnings in cities hundreds of miles away last week had largely dissipated by Saturday. But wind gusts persisted through Sunday afternoon.

The wind began pushing flames from the back toward the south and southwest as the Plumes National Forest blaze, or Moonlight fire, topped 62,000 acres, the U.S. Forest Service reported.

Six to 10 people in the small town of Frank's Valley, on the fire's southeast flank, were evacuated late Sunday, said Ron DeHart, a forest service spokesman.

Also, mandatory evacuations remained for 50 to 100 people in the North Arm of Indian Valley and other small communities. Residents of Genesee and Taylorsville were advised but not required to leave their homes as the fire headed back in their direction, officials said.

The fire has destroyed an unoccupied summer home, trailer and small shed since it began last Monday, and five firefighters have suffered minor injuries.

The fire remained just 15 percent contained, and more than 2,700 firefighters struggled to dampen the flames and bulldoze fire lines as winds began picking up Sunday, DeHart said.

So far, $10.6 million has been spent fighting the blaze, DeHart said. Eight air tankers and 15 helicopters were dropping water and fire retardant chemicals on the fire. There was no estimate when the fire might be contained, he said.

As smoke spread across parts of Northern California, local health officials continued advising people with breathing problems to stay indoors.