Mosquito fire grows past 50,000 acres in ‘historically dry’ brush as another blaze ignites west of Tahoe
A massive wildfire grew to more than 50,000 acres in a “historically dry” mountain forest west of Lake Tahoe in the first week of June. (Photo: Courtesy of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection)
A huge wildfire is raging in a “historically dry” forest in northern California as firefighters watch it continue to burn even though a key weather pattern is changing. Officials believe the fire, which is burning a few counties east of Lake Tahoe, is sparked when lightning strikes another blaze burning in the same area and spreads its flames with the help of high winds.
The fire is burning through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, which covers nearly 7,600 square miles in the remote terrain between the Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. It started just before noon Friday on June 1, and has burned more than 4,100 acres on Friday alone.
The forest, which is about 200 miles north of San Francisco, is home to the biggest old-growth timber stands remaining in Northern California. In the past, it had been the site of extensive logging. But in the 1960s, when logging was outlawed in the state, the forest was opened up to the public, and now, the area is known as one of the last truly wild places left in the state.
The fire has been visible to the naked eye for much of the past week, but officials have cautioned it is still very active. On Sunday, firefighters watched as flames grew over the weekend, and they expected a major increase once the winds die down Tuesday and Wednesday. They are especially concerned about the flames igniting lightning strikes on a blaze about 40 miles west of them, which has been burning since Tuesday.
“We’re going to keep a close watch on that fire,” said Jennifer Mills, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service, adding that it started as a small, contained fire near the town of Mokelumne Hill, about 35 miles west of Lake Tahoe. “There’s some concern that it’s become some of those crazy little firestorms.”
Even with the added concern about the lightning fires, Mills said her agency is confident it will be able to extinguish the fire, although it will take a