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Update: Butte Fire Containment Grows, Size Holds

Update at 8:30pm: As firefighters increase the containment by three percent while holding the acreage at 70,760, Cal Fire Public Information officer Josh Rubinstein indicates all overnight fire suppression efforts are focused on returning residents to their homes. He says, “The fire behavior remains minimal, but they [fire personnel] are working diligently to expedite repopulation. We want to extinguish the fire, make the area safe so people can return home…resume a normal lifestyle, if you will, or start establishing a foundation so they can begin rebuilding their lives.”

The number of fire personnel battling the blaze has dropped to 4,164. Resources on the scene include 385 engines, 54 water tenders, 92 hand crews, 46 dozers,10 helicopters and 5 air tankers.

Update at 6:50pm: Cal Fire reports the Butte Fire size sticks at 70,760 acres while the containment has risen to  63%.  The number of homes lost to the flames also rose to 503 residences and 330 outbuildings with 47 structures damaged.

Update at 6:05: More progress on the Butte Fire as more advisory evacuation notices are lifted in Calaveras County.

Here is the information just released by Cal Fire:

  • Evacuation Advisories have been lifted in the following areas, effective Friday, September 18, 2015 at 6pm
  • All areas and roads south of Dogtown, San Domingo, Fullen, and along the Highway 4 corridor, from Angels Camp through Camp Connell.

Update at 4 pm: Cal Fire wants to update residents impacted by the Butte Fire. The Incident Management Team I has announced two community meetings in Amador and Calaveras Counties to provide information and a general overview of the blaze with the discussion centering around community needs and fire suppression.

Here are the times and locations according to Cal Fire:

Amador County Community Meeting:

  • Monday, September 21, 2015 at 7:00 P.M.
  • Pine Grove Town Hall 19889 Highway 88
  • Pine Grove, CA 95665

Calaveras County Community Meeting:

  • Tuesday, September 22, 2015 at 6:00 P.M.
  • Bret Harte High School: Multi-Purpose room
  • 323 S. Main Street
  • Angels Camp, CA 95222

Update 2:45 pm: Calaveras County Water District (CCWD) wants to clear up confusion regarding a boil water advisory issued in Sheep Ranch since water service was restored this morning. District officials state the advisory is ONLY for 48 customers in Sheep Ranch. CCWD spokesperson Joel Metzger says that all other district service areas are operating normally and the water is completely safe to drink. He adds the goal is to lift the Sheep Ranch boil advisory on Sunday, Sept. 20; if state-mandated testing comes back negative for potentially harmful bacteria.

As reported earlier, free bottled water is available behind the Central Calaveras Fire and Rescue station, 11309 Sheep Ranch Road. Cal Fire is also providing portable bathrooms to residents.

As reported Monday, Calaveras County Water District (CCWD) is offering free water to those impacted by the Butte Fire. CCWD spokesperson Joel Metzger reports that, due to the disaster, the district has opened up three emergency fill stations to county residents who have lost access to their water source. Potable water will provided free of charge on a temporary basis at these locations:

  • West Point Fire Station, 195 Spink Road, West Point
  • Ebbetts Pass Fire Station, 1037 Blagen Road, Arnold
  • Jenny Lind Water Treatment Plant, 3561 Silver Rapids Road, Valley Springs

Metzger says the stations will be open 24/7, but not manned. The public will need to bring their own containers.

Additionally, Calaveras Public Utility District has set up three free emergency water fill stations for those impacted by the Butte Fire at these locations:

  • Government Center (Red Barn Entrance), 891 Mt. Ranch Road, San Andreas (adjacent to the Behavioral Health building)
  • Rail Road Flat Post Office, 313 N. RRF Road, Rail Road Flat 
  • Sierra Trading Post, 8026 Highway 49, Mokelumne Hill (behind the building)

CPUD provides water service to the communities of San Andreas, Mokelumne Hill, Rail Road Flat, Glencoe and Paloma, many of which are impacted by the Butte Fire.

Update at 10:15am: CAL Fire is allowing additional evacuees to return to their homes this morning.

The following information became effective at 10am, according to CAL Fire:

Mandatory Evacuation orders for the following have been changed to Evacuation Advisories:

(Some areas of the Communities of Mountain Ranch and Jesus Maria)

1) Whiskey Slide Road open from Jesus Maria Road to Mountain Ranch Road.  All of

Worden Road, 44 Ranch Road, Wendell Road, Story Road, Greenhills Couty,

Francine Road, Francine Court, Jesus Maria Road is closed at Whiskey Slide

2) East Murray Creek Road is closed at Whiskey Slide

3) Fricot City Road is closed in Sheep Ranch

4) Mountain Ranch Road is closed at Avenue A

5) Washington Street, Garabaldi Street, Upper Michel Road, Lower Michel Road, Cave City Road to Steeds Way, Mountain Vista Drive, Mountain Meadows Drive,

Ponderosa Way off of Michel Road, Alamo Road, Gaston Hill Road, Starlight Lane,

Carson Hill, Cotton Flat Road, Hidden Valley Road, Old Gulch Road, Frecerro Road,

Vista Amorosa Road, Old Miners Way, Bigfoot Road, High Country Road, Shalom Way, Blue Eagle Way

6) Jesus Maria Road to Red Cloud Court, Springlake Road, Smith Road, Old Emmigrant Trail West on the north and south side to Rustlers Pass, Calaveras Creek Circle, Olts

Road, Eagle View Drive, Royal Ridge Drive, Sheep Ranch Road to Scotts Junction, Lakeside Drive, Lava Cap Court, White Rock Road, Lakeview Drive, McKinneys Diggins Road, Manzanita Ridge Road.

Evacuations Advisories have been lifted in the following areas:

1) The City of Angels Camp and Altaville

2) All residences and roads west of Hwy 49, including west of Calaveritas Road from

Fricot City Road to Mountain Ranch Road

Original story posted at 6:50am: There was no new growth on the Butte Fire overnight. CAL Fire reports this morning that the fire is 70,760 acres and 60% contained. The number of homes destroyed remains 365, and the number of outbuildings gone is 261.

There are 4,327 firefighters still assigned to the incident. There are 414 engines, 54 water tenders, 10 helicopters, five air tankers, 92 hand crews and 59 dozers.

The following road closures are in effect this morning, according to CAL Fire:

Ponderosa Road at the burned area; Railroad Flat Road closed to Mountain Ranch Road; Michel Road; Sheep Ranch Road at Fricot City Road; Sheep Ranch Road at Mountain Ranch Road; Railroad Flat Road at Jesus Maria; Swiss Ranch Road at Railroad Flat Road; Jesus Maria Road at SR 26, Ponderosa Way at SR 26; Hawver Road at Doster Road; West Murray Creek to 44 Ranch; Doster Road approximately 1 mile North of Sierra Vista Lookout Road; Jesus Maria at Whiskey Slide; Cave City Road at Michel Road; Whiskey Slide Road at Worden Road; Mountain Ranch.

CAL Fire has released the following information this morning about where evacuations are still in place:

All areas inside the fire perimeter, South of Calaveras River

(Mountain Ranch Community):

All areas and roads South of Mountain Ranch Rd and Sheep Ranch Rd inside the fire perimeter.

All areas and roads East of the intersection of Mountain Ranch Road and Upper Michel Road inside the fire perimeter.

(Jesus Maria Community):

All areas of Jesus Maria are under Mandatory Evacuation EXCEPT for the following (the following areas are open):

1) Hawver Road: Hawver Road from Goldstrike Road to the intersection of Hawver and Doster Road.

2) Hawver Road and Oakendell.

3) West Murray Creek Road to Nikki Trail, Sierra Vista Lookout to the intersection of Doster Road.  From the intersection of Sierra Vista Lookout Road and Doster Road east to East Murray Creek Road.  To include: Crooked Springs Lane, Immaculate Drive and Murray Dale Lane.

4) All areas east of the intersection of Jesus Maria Road and Ponderosa to Railroad Flat Road.  To include: Smith Road, Rolling Oaks Drive, all of the Cedar Way, Shawnee Trail, Kerstan Way, Buttondown Lane, Springlake Road, Red Plow Court, Old Greek Mine, East Rainbow Road, West Rainbow Road, Sequoia Road, Vista Way, Shadow Pine Lane, Creations Way, Betty K Lane, Edward Court, Shine Way, Baker Riley Way, Penny Way, Old Prospector Trail, Worden Road from the intersection of Jesus Maria to Quail Run including Spring Gulch, Rabbit Run, and any street east of the intersection of Jesus Maria Road.

5) Ponderosa to Railroad Flat Road.

For Continuing Butte Fire information read September 19th’s Butte fire news story here.

To read a rundown of yesterday’s Butte Fire updates, click here.