The Mission Fire, a blaze sparked east of North Fork that grew to several hundreds of acres in hours and destroyed four structures, was reported as 100% contained at 1,035 acres by Cal Fire officials Wednesday night.
At the same time, the Railroad Fire near Fish Camp was reported at 92% contained while remaining at 12,407 acres, the same acreage in previous days.
At 7 a.m. Thursday, control of the Railroad Fire was slated to transition to a Sierra National Forest Type 3 management team, a positive sign that the fire was nearing its end.
A Burned Area Emergency Response Team (BAER) was also scheduled to arrive over the next few days, officials said, in order to address protection of life, property, and critical natural and cultural resources.
The number of destroyed structures remained at 17 on the Railroad Fire. Highway 41 remains open but drivers are urged to use caution as a large amount of firefighters remain in the area. All evacuated communities during the fire, which started Aug. 29, were reopened by the end of the weekend including Sugar Pine, Fish Camp, and Cedar Valley.
For the Mission Fire, 1,479 personnel remained on assignment, with 107 fire engines, 33 hand crews, 15 water tenders, nine bulldozers, and five helicopters alongside additional air support.
The fire grew quickly when it began Sept. 3 in the Cascadel Heights area, where tree mortality rates have been reported higher than 90%. At one point that afternoon, when the fire was reported, hundreds were sent running and at least 50 were reportedly trapped in the area, but they were quickly saved thanks to the efforts of sheriff’s deputies and other responders.
The cause of both fires is under investigation. On Monday, Pacific Gas and Electric Company released a statement confirming a tree-cutting crew, contracted through an outside company under the purview of PG&E, was at work near where the Railroad Fire began. They did not say, as widespread rumors have claimed, that the crew may have committed an accident of some kind that started the blaze.
Anyone with questions or concerns can contact the company at 1-800-743-5000.
“The National Forest Service is conducting a full review of what happened that day,” spokespman Denny Boyles said. “We know that this process will take some time and we are supporting the National Forest Service efforts.”
No official cause has yet been given on either fire.
With both fires, officials said holding and improving firelines, while mopping up hot spots and working to repair any damaged land or structures, remain as immediate goals.