Sunday Aug 30 2009
Wildfire burns structures, closes Highway 49 in North Auburn
At least 275 acres in flames
A 275-acre wildland fire burning in North Auburn closed part of Highway 49 and was burning structures and threatening other commercial and residential buildings Sunday afternoon. Mandatory evacuations were also ordered for several Auburn neighborhoods. Those neighborhoods include Saddleback Estates and the areas of Virginia and Stanley roads in Christian Valley, according to Dena Erwin, Placer County Sheriff’s spokeswoman. Erwin added that residents of at least three subdivisions off Dry Creek Road, including Windsong Park and Greenstone, were also ordered to leave their homes. Erwin advised that residents take a minimum amount of belongings and their pets is possible. “Drive safely because there are going to be emergency vehicles on the roads,” Erwin said. Martha Garcia, editor of the Loomis News, who was visiting the Dry Creek Road area Sunday afternoon, said she counted at least 12 houses destroyed in the North Park subdivision. A California Highway Patrol online report stated that Rock Creek Elementary School, located on 3050 Bell Road, was the evacuation center as of 4:27 p.m. Those with livestock can take their animals to teh Dewitt Center in Auburn. Auburn Police Department Chief Valerie Harris said there are no evacuation calls for residents inside the Auburn city limits. "Should that change, we will then make notice through Journal updates, local news and any other resources including telephone advisements," Harris said at about 5 p.m. Sunday. The blaze, reported at about 2:30 p.m. grew from a couple of acres to about 100 acres by 3:30 p.m., according to Cal Fire Grass Valley Command Center. At about 5 p.m., it had grown to 500 acres, according to a Cal Fire dispatcher. “It started in the area of Highway 49 and Rock Creek Circle, near the Rock Creek Mobile Home Park,” Cal Fire dispatch operator Nicole Claro said. Helicopters, air tankers, engines and strike teams were responding to the blaze. “We’re throwing everything at the fire,” Claro said. The fire was drawing a lot of onlookers, according to Ali Westcott, who lives in the Greens housing complex near Dry Creek Road area. Westcott said she had tried to leave her home to go to the grocery store, but could not go because of the closure of Highway 49. “To the left toward Dry Creek you can see flames and a lot of black smoke,” she said. “To the right, there’s also smoke. It’s on both sides.” Westcott said she was closing her windows because of the smoke and was concerned she might have to evacuate.