Local News

Monday, Jul 30 2012 09:10 PM

Firefighters busy across the state; crews surrounding Bodfish blaze

By CALIFORNIAN STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

UKIAH -- Firefighters battled several wildfires Monday burning across California, including an 800-acre blaze that prompted the evacuation of a campground in the Sierra Nevada.

About 260 firefighters fought to gain control of the Peak Fire that started Saturday near Lake Davis in Plumas National Forest.

The blaze prompted the evacuation of Conklin Park Campground and was about 30 percent contained. No structures were threatened.

Firefighters confronted a 271-acre wildfire in Bodfish Canyon in Sequoia National Forest east of Bakersfield, fire officials said. The fire was reported at 2:06 p.m. Sunday in a rural residential area near Alpine Way and immediately spread south, burning in grass and scattered brush, firefighters said. Firefighting efforts were directed toward protecting the small community of Valley View south of the fire, a Kern County Fire Department news release said. A wilderness study area with Piute cypress trees was also being guarded.

On Monday night, the fire still threatened 49 structures and was about 70 percent contained, according to the news release. A total of 477 firefighters were battling the blaze, firefighters said. No injuries had been reported and no structures had been damaged, firefighters said.

In Northern California, fire crews were close to containing a 385-acre blaze in Cow Mountain Recreation Area near Ukiah in Mendocino County. Full containment was expected Monday evening, according to Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Fire and Forest Protection.

The fire began Saturday afternoon in a remote forest about 10 miles east of Ukiah. Over the weekend, it threatened about 20 homes and a few communication towers, and forced the closure of one recreation area.

More than 500 firefighters and 44 fire engines have been deployed to battle the fire burning in remote, rugged terrain. The recreation area had been reopened by Monday and no homes or structures had been damaged.

The cause of the Cow Mountain Fire was still under investigation.

A combination of higher temperatures and lower humidity was elevating fire danger this week across California, which had an unusually dry winter, Berlant said.

"The grass and brush is incredibly dry this year," he said. "As we move further into summer, things get even drier."

CalFire officials have determined that two wildfires that began last week in the Central Valley were sparked by power equipment, a category that includes lawnmowers, weed trimmers and tractors.

"Most people don't realize powered-equipment like that is actually one of leading causes of wildfires," Berlant said. "It takes one simple spark on a lawnmower blade on a rock."

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