Sierra fire close to containment; costs in millions

The Associated Press
Friday June 01, 2001

SUSANVILLE — Nearly 2,000 firefighters and support personnel battling a forest fire that threatened homes and forced evacuations in the Sierra Nevada expected to have the 4,300-acre blaze fully contained by Friday. 

So far, the mountain fire that burned up to the Susanville city limits about 80 miles northwest of Reno, Nev., has cost $3.7 million in firefighting expenses and destroyed $2.5 million worth of timber, mostly on national forest lands, federal officials said Thursday. 

More than 150 fire engines, 10 helicopters, four air tankers and 18 bulldozers worked to complete containment lines around 70 percent of the so-called Devil fire late Thursday afternoon. 

It was expected to be fully encircled, or contained, late Thursday and the fire fully under control by Monday, June 4, the Susanville Interagency Fire Center said. *The fire threatened the town of Susanville on Sunday, forcing evacuations of 60 homes and a hospital and coating streets with dark soot. 

Gusty, erratic winds caused the fire to jump the Susan River to the north late Wednesday, burning a 5-acre area and again threatening homes in the Thumper Hill and Britt Road areas. But “aggressive attack by helicopters, fire engines and ground crews resulted in containment of the spot with no damage to homes,” said the statement from the fire center, which is staffed by the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, National Park Service and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The Susanville blaze started about seven miles west of town Sunday on private timberland after being sparked by a man shooting targets in the woods, said state Dept. of Forestry spokeswoman Wendy McIntosh. The man, whose name was not released, was cited for causing a fire and letting it escape. 

Two firefighters were injured while battling the blaze, including one with a possible broken arm. 





The fire skirted eight homes, coming as close as 30 feet to some of them. About 140 residents were evacuated, but most had returned to their homes by Thursday.