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Sites Fire close to containment
The Sites Fire is close to being contained, but hot spots flaring up in front of the larger Mill Fire have caused firefighters new problems in that battle.
More than 13,000 acres have been torched by the Mill Fire in western Colusa and Glenn counties as of the last official report Tuesday morning.
However, officials believe that total has grown, possibly doubled.
Georgia Criner has lived in the Stonyford area for 30 years.
She remembers when the Trough Fire ripped through the Fouts Springs area in 2001, devastating the recreation areas of Davis Flat, North Fork, Fouts Springs, Nail Track and Grey Pin. But that blaze was not nearly as close to her home as the Mill Fire, which had Criner on the phone Monday trying to find friends who could help her get her horses out of the area.
"I have never been through anything like this before," said Criner, who lives east of Stonyford, along Sites-Lodoga Road.
The area was not being threatened by the Mill Fire, or the Sites Fire, which was east of the ranch.
Officially, the Sites Fire, which has claimed about 4,000 acres, is 50 percent contained.
Unofficially, firefighters are close to full containment, and will spend the next couple of days knocking down hot spots and bringing the fire under complete control, said Mary Anne Aldrich, a spokeswoman for CalFire out of Oroville.
No homes have been threatened by the Sites Fire, which sparked about 2 p.m. Sunday, a day after the Mill Fire ignited near the Mill Valley Campground in the Mendocino National Forest at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The causes of the fires are unknown.
The communities of Letts Lake, Bonnie View and Board Camp Springs have been evacuated, and the fringe areas of Stonyford and Fouts Springs are under voluntary evacuation because of the blaze.
Adrienne Freeman, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forestry Department, said about 100 homes have been evacuated from the mandatory areas, but it is unknown how many families have left the voluntary evacuation zones.
About 50 homes have been threatened by the blaze. None has been lost. Two firefighters sustained what are described as minor injuries, officials said.
More than 900 firefighters have been assigned to fight the Mill Fire. An additional 1,340 are on the Sites blaze, including a strike team comprised of firefighters from Arbuckle, Williams, Colusa, Sacramento River, Maxwell and Meridian, officials said.
Jeff Blade watched from his brother-in-law's home east of Stonyford as the dark clouds of smoke rose above Goat Mountain and the foothills west of town.
His home is on the other side of Stonyford, and in line with the path of the Mill Fire.
"We have burnt pine needles and oak leaves falling all around our place, but we are still quite a ways from the fire," said Blade, who was helping his family move down the hill.
Blade said he and some of his family were in San Diego and returned home Sunday. They could see the flames from Williams.
Blades said it was the Sites Fire that kept his family from driving directly back to their homes.
"We had to go all the way around to Elk Creek (in western Glenn County), and we were seeing ashes at Thunderhill (Raceway)," he said.
Air drops using both water and fire retardant were being deployed in the Sites fire areas, as ground crews mopped up hot spots in Sunday's burn area, and fought to create new containment lines.
Having fires in such proximity does cause some concerns.
"It is something we are good at dealing with, but it does add complexity," Freeman said.
"You have aircraft in the same area, so you have to deal with that, and you could have radio channels crossing."