Update: Thousands without power and dozens evacuated as California wildfire explodes

·2 min read
Alert Wildfire/Nevada Seismological Lab

Updated story: Electra Fire grows to 3,000 acres after forcing evacuations, rescues. Click here.

Original story:

About 100 people are safe but unable to leave a PG&E powerhouse after a wildfire sparked near the North Fork of the Mokelumne River on Monday afternoon. The group was swiftly evacuated to safe ground by sheriff’s officials.

Thousands more in Amador and Calaveras counties are without power, according to PG&E. The company reported that it “deenergized” power lines in the area at Cal Fire’s request.

The Electra Fire started at 3:44 p.m., according to Cal Fire’s Amador-El Dorado unit, near Electra Road and Highway 49 along the Amador-Calaveras county line. The initial crews said the blaze had a “dangerous rate of spread up the drainage moving in a southerly direction” amid “steep and rugged terrain.”

By 7 p.m., the fire had grown to 959 acres, Cal Fire said. Firefighting aircraft are dropping retardant in an effort to slow the flames. One first responder was hurt due to the fire, Cal Fire said, but details about the injuries were not immediately known.

Amador County Sheriff Gary Redman said deputies who were in the area of Big Bar Launch quickly evacuated about 100 people in the upstream Box Beach area to the nearby Pacific Gas & Electric Co. facility, known as the Electra powerhouse.

That group remains at the powerhouse with several firefighting crews protecting the area because roads out are “impassable” due to the blaze and heavy equipment, Redman said.

“They are not able to leave because of the activity,” he said. “They’re holding for right now.”

Redman added that the evacuees were not in immediate danger from the flames and that personnel were working to clear a path for the people to be escorted out of the area.

Mandatory evacuations have been issued for residents in the Butte Mountain Road area. “Butte Mountain Road will be closed except for egress purposes,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post.

Evacuation orders were also in place for the Lake Tabeaud area: “All or portions of the following roads falling within the 2-mile radius are included in these updated evacuation orders: Amador Lane, Fig Tree Lane, Ponderosa Way, Clinton Road, and Tabeau Road at Clinton Bar Road,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

Areas of Calaveras County north of Highway 26 from Montgomery Drive to Lower Dorray Road are also under evacuation, Cal Fire said.

An evacuation site has been set up at the Italian Picnic Grounds, 581 Highway 49 in Sutter Creek and at San Andreas Town Hall, 24 Church Hill Road.

The cause of the fire, which is 5 miles southeast of Jackson and 50 miles southeast of Sacramento, is under investigation.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting