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Northern California wildfire forces evacuation of 150 homes on Sunday

Monday June 10, 2002

MOONEY FLAT — About 150 homes were evacuated in Northern California on Sunday as winds fanned a 1,000-acre wildfire closer to structures. 

The Yuba County fire started about 3 a.m. after high winds knocked power lines into a tree, said JoAnn Cartoscelli, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry. 

Winds were pushing the so-called Field Fire southeast in the direction of Mooney Flat, about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, where the evacuation was ordered, she said. The fire was 30 percent contained Sunday evening, and about 100 structures were threatened. A shelter was set up at the Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley. 

A voluntary evacuation also was in effect for the Smartville area. The blaze was about a mile and a half away from that town Sunday evening. 

No injuries were reported from the 273 firefighters battling the blaze. Seven air tankers and a helicopter were called to drop water on the fire, Cartoscelli said. 

Meanwhile, a 2,000-acre fire in Butte County was 100 percent contained Sunday morning. No injuries or burned structures occurred during that fire located about five miles east of Chico. 

In Southern California, a wildfire that scorched 23,500 acres of brush in the Angeles National Forest and chased more than 1,000 residents from their homes was 80 percent contained Sunday evening. 

A weekend of cooler temperatures helped firefighters subdue the blaze, and full containment was expected by 6 p.m. Monday, said Kurt Schaefer, a spokesman with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. 

“Things went very smoothly. We had some pretty heavy cloud cover here in Santa Clarita, which had the temperatures down,” Schaefer said. “We got quite a bit of work done today.” 

Meanwhile, to the west in Ventura County, firefighters were still working to extinguish a blaze that burned 20,850 acres in the Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai. 

That fire was 40 percent contained Sunday evening, but U.S. Forest Service spokesman Barry Peckham said firefighters were “cautiously optimistic” they would soon contain the wilderness blaze. It began June 1, but has not damaged homes or forced evacuations. 

Fire officials have not released an estimate for full containment. Some 1,600 firefighters were on the line. 

In the Angeles National Forest, about 300 firefighters were called off the so-called Copper Fire on Sunday, and 1,287 remained to finish the job.