Mosquito fire: California fire 60% contained after rainy weather ends

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Firefighters made significant progress this week in containing the Mosquito Fire as a storm system brought several inches of rain to the Northern California foothills and lifted the latest mandatory evacuation orders in Placer and El Dorado counties.

The wildfire grew slightly Wednesday at 76,539 acres (120 square miles), up 249 acres after reporting no growth Monday and Tuesday, according to an incident report Thursday morning from Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service.

But restraint also jumped to 60%, up from 49% on Wednesday morning.

More than 2,000 people remain assigned to the fire, with the top priority of completing containment lines on the eastern flank of the fire, according to updates Thursday.

Firefighters are also patrolling the south and west flanks, including the Foresthill area, for potential smoldering and hot spots to ensure that established lines will hold.

As the storm winds down, warmer, drier weather will create the potential for increased fire behavior, officials wrote in Thursday’s update.

However, it will also provide access to additional resources, “allowing firefighters to access parts of the fire line with equipment that they previously could not reach due to the wet and muddy road.”

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch earlier this week, Monday and Tuesday, for the Mosquito Fire area, warning that thunderstorms could produce dangerous debris flows. Fortunately, the advisories have expired and no significant flooding has been reported.

The Mosquito Fire, California’s largest wildfire of 2022, destroyed 78 structures and damaged 13 others, mostly homes in the communities of Michigan Bluff and Volcanoville. Cal Fire says the damage assessment is complete.

The fire started Sept. 6 near Oxbow Reservoir in Placer County, raged in the early days and flared up again last week when the 1,100-acre fire jumped the Middle Fork of the American River from El Dorado County back into Placer County.

Mandatory evacuation orders in place for communities including Foresthill, Georgetown and Todd Valley have been phased out since last weekend. The last few dozen residents ordered to evacuate saw them lifted Wednesday afternoon.

Fire assistance centers will be available in each county this week, offering resources to those whose homes have been destroyed or damaged, or who otherwise need assistance in the recovery process:

Placer County Center located at 24750 Main St. in Foresthill, on the former site of Foresthill Elementary School. It is open from noon to 7 p.m. on Thursday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

Downtown Eldorado County located at 330 Fair Lane in Placerville. It is open from noon to 4pm on Thursday and Friday and from 10am to 4pm on Saturday.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news team, covering public safety and other local stories. A native of Sacramento and lifelong resident of the capital, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.

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