JACKSON – Aided by unseasonably cool weather and higher humidity levels than normal, firefighters on Wednesday made considerable progress in containing the Electra Fire burning along the Amador-Calaveras county line, according to Cal Fire.
As of 7 p.m., the wildfire covered 4,112 acres and was 40% contained, up from 5% just 24 hours earlier, Cal Fire spokesperson Jas Shaw said at a news conference.
Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Jeremy Pierce said the fight against the fire was “going as planned.”
“There have been no surprises in any of our operations today and they’ve all been extremely successful,” Pierce said.
Temperatures on Wednesday were unseasonably cool, said Brian Newman, a fire behavior analyst with Cal Fire, adding that humidity levels were also higher than normal.
“But what that’s done for us is allowed for the moderation of some of the fire behavior compared to what we experienced when the fire first started,” Newman said.
On Thursday, temperatures will be a couple degrees warmer and humidity levels will drop by a few percentage points. Winds, however, will hover in the 6 to 7 mph range, which Newman said will be “really advantageous for our crews working out there.”
The Electra Fire ignited around 3:45 p.m. Monday near Electra Road and Highway 49, southeast of Jackson in Amador County. Cal Fire Amador-El Dorado Unit Chief Mike Blankenheim said the fast-moving flames initially reminded him of the 2015 Butte Fire, which consumed 70,868 acres, killed two people and destroyed 877 structures.
“It started very much in the same place as the fire in 2015 and crossed the (Mokelumne) river very much in the same place in 2015,” Blankenheim said. “For the first few hours, it was really shaping up like we were going to have a repeat of that disaster in 2015 and that did not sit well obviously.”
Conditions, as noted by Newman, were more favorable this time around, and with no other major fire activity in the region, the unit was able to call on the entirety of Cal Fire’s firefighting resources. An incident management team was also on hand from the start.
“Everything right out of the gate was at our immediate disposal,” Blankenheim said.
The fire is threatening 1,217 structures, according to Cal Fire. So far, no structures have been destroyed or damaged. At least one first responder has been injured on the job.
Evacuation orders remained in place for areas of Amador County south of Butte Mountain Road to Highway 88 and Mount Zion, west of Highway 88 and Highway 26, north of Highway 26 and west of Highway 49. In neighboring Calaveras County, zones 100, 103, 104, 351, 352, 358 and 359 were still under evacuation orders.
Deputies are patrolling the evacuated areas, said Amador County Sheriff Gary Redman.
“We have already caught somebody that ran a roadblock and was casing houses and up to no good,” Redman said. “He is now in the Amador County jail and we will continue to have that zero tolerance in Amador County.”
“We also have additional resources out in evacuated areas,” added Lt. Greg Stark of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office. “If you come to Calaveras or Amador county, you will go to jail for looting.”
In an incident update Wednesday night, Cal Fire said it expects to fully contain the fire by July 18.
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“We do have a really good plan in place over the next few days to gain some more containment on this incident and ultimately gain control of the incident,” said Chris Trindade, an incident commander with Cal Fire. “We have the best folks in our corners.”
Check back for updates.