Last week, Janet Stickler was forced to evacuate the trailer she lived in as the Mosquito Fire – California’s largest wildfire this year – approached her Garden Valley community.
He found shelter at his nephew’s friend’s house, who offered him a room in his house in the small community of Dutch Flat, about an hour north.
This week, deja vu: Stickler, 74, had to leave again after another blaze, the Dutch Fire, came dangerously close on Tuesday.
“It was the most intense, horrible situation,” Stickler, now retired, told CNN. “I can’t believe it.” I don’t have much strength or resilience and I’m a worried person. So it’s just stressful.’
The fast-growing Mosquito Fire had burned 63,776 acres and was about 20 percent contained as of Wednesday night, according to Cal Fire. Since it broke out on September 6, it has become the largest fire in California this year, surpassing the McKinney fire, which was previously the largest at 60,100 hectares.
Cindy Goldman, who was hosting Stickler at her home, said that as the Holland Fire grew nearby, she helped Stickler pack her belongings and her dog to escape the flames. Goldman then began driving around town — he said the family was very sorry — to make sure everyone was safe and aware of the fire’s threat.
“Everybody called everybody,” Goldman said. “Everybody was running before they got any evacuation orders because (the fire) was so close, people were pulling up trailers and packing cars.”
Authorities began evacuating residents in the area shortly after the fire started, according to a Twitter post by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. They were evacuation orders get up later on Tuesday. The fire was 50 percent contained Wednesday night, according to Cal Fire.
The Dutchess Fire, which started late Tuesday afternoon, has burned about 48 acres in northern California and nearly gutted the town, which is off Interstate 80 and has fewer than 200 permanent residents.
Evacuation warnings remain for Garden Valley as the Mosquito Fire rages and Stickler said he was unable to return the trailer. He returned to Goldman’s home Wednesday morning.
The Mosquito Fire continued to threaten more than 9,000 homes, businesses and buildings in El Dorado and Placer counties Wednesday afternoon, officials said. he said. The fire has already destroyed 64 structures and damaged another 10, according to Cal Fire.
The fire was moving east and northeast, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said in a Facebook post Wednesday. The fire reached the southern edge of the Foresthill and Todd Valley communities early Wednesday, and those areas were still under threat later in the day, officials said.
“This area remains very dangerous,” Placer County Sheriff’s Lt. Josh Barnhart said in a virtual briefing Wednesday afternoon. “I understand that people are eager to repopulate Todd Valley, but it is too dangerous to do so at this time.”
Evacuation orders and warnings remained in effect Wednesday for several communities in both counties.
In El Dorado County alone, more than 5,400 people were under evacuation orders and more than 11,500 were under evacuation warnings, according to data released by the county.
But below-average temperatures forecast for the next few days will help firefighters battle the blaze in Northern California. It is likely that there will be no rain in the next few days, but the temperatures will be cooler than normal and the winds – which have helped the fires grow so far – will be minimal, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.
The fire is one of many burning across the western US, much of the region burned in triple-digit temperatures last week. An estimated 91 large fires and active fire clusters have burned more than 854,500 acres in the region, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
And so far this year, more than 50,600 fires have been extinguished on more than 6.7 million acres in the U.S., according to the center.
“This is the biggest fire that has happened in the last 10 years. More than 87% of these forest fires were caused by people”, he added.
And the fires are causing dangerous smoke conditions. A wall of smoke from the Mosquito Fire in the Sierra Nevada mountains created hazardous air quality conditions earlier this week. Air quality advisories remained in effect for most of the U.S. Northwest Wednesday, according to the center.