An air tanker dropped pinkish-orange flame retardant between Sand Ridge Road and Mount Aukum Road, soaring quickly over the heads of a gathering of onlookers at the intersection of Sand Ridge, Mount Aukum and Bucks Bar roads in Somerset. Minutes later, a helicopter circled over a Cal Fire vehicle, flame retardant from a previous tanker pass drying on it. The helicopter, obscured by the thick smoke, dropped its water, pausing only a few seconds before it was off again to resupply.
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The fire was reported at 11:39 on Tuesday and had burned about 20 acres by about 1:30 p.m., said Cal Fire spokesman Mike Kaslin. Evacuations were in effect for Moody Road.
At the time, there had been four air tankers and three helicopters plus an air attack helicopter monitoring the fire.
A total of 18 homes were given evacuation notice, with six in the Sand Ridge area and 12 near Moody Road, Kaslin said. “Moody is a major concern,” he said.
The fire would likely be contained by the next morning, Kaslin said, but they would monitor constantly for the next 48 hours and then check daily for any spot fires.
At 1:50 p.m., Mount Aukum Road, which had been closed, became open to one lane with a California Highway Patrol escort, though the fire still burned on both sides of the road.
A later press release updated the numbers. The fire burned about 15 acres and threatened a total of 25 homes. The fire was at 50 percent containment that afternoon with no injuries or damage to structures. As of Wednesday morning, the fire was 100 percent contained, but crews continued to monitor it, according to Cal Fire spokesperson Teri Mizuhara.
Cal Fire spokesman Robert Little was quoted as saying that “some of the homeowners had done an excellent job creating defensible space around their homes and it clearly made the difference between them returning to their home or a pile of ashes since the fire literally burned right up to their homes.”
Responding agencies included El Dorado County Fire, Diamond Springs Fire, Pioneer Fire, Rescue Fire, Garden Valley Fire, the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire. Just before 2 p.m., there were 18 fire engines, four hand crews, three bulldozers and three tenders fighting the fire.