UPDATE: Some evacs lifted for Mountain Fire, Hwy 299 reopened [VIDEO][PHOTO GALLERY]

Kim Noyes
 

UPDATE: Some evacuations lifted for Mountain Fire, officials open Highway 299

Damon Arthur, Alayna Shulman, David Benda and Matt Brannon, Redding Record Searchlight Published 11:21 a.m. PT Aug. 22, 2019 | Updated 10:37 p.m. PT Aug. 22, 2019

Update, 9:47 p.m. 

Officials are opening up Highway 299 and plan to repopulate a portion of the evacuated area Thursday night, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 

"Effective at 10:00 p.m. tonight, Dry Creek Road at HWY 299 will be opened," the agency announced. 

Mandatory evacuations and road closures are now limited to the following areas: 

  • Bear Mountain Road from Christian Way to Dry Creek Road
  • Squaw Grass Trail at Dry Creek Road
  • Elk Trail West at Dry Creek Road
  • Northbound Intermountain Road and westbound Alice Lane.

Power is expected to be fully restored to Jones Valley on Friday at 8 a.m.

"Residents traveling in the vicinity are asked to drive with caution as fire apparatus and emergency personnel continue to work in the area. The evacuation center will remain open at the Crosspointe Community Church 2960 Hartnell Avenue in Redding," Cal Fire announced. 

Update, 8:40 p.m.

While the wind died down on the Mountain Fire this afternoon, helping firefighters get a handle on the blaze, a northerly breeze was expected to pick up overnight.

Winds from the north were forecast after midnight, with gusts up to 18 mph, said Craig Shoemaker, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The winds were expected to die down by sunrise Friday morning, he said, with winds from the south at less than 10 mph.

However, temperatures are expected to reach as much as 105 degrees on Friday, he said. The high Thursday in Redding was 100 degrees.

Update, 8:20 p.m.

Cal Fire issued an update on the Mountain Fire in Jones Valley at 8:15 p.m. that said the fire remains at 600 acres and was 20% contained. There were 580 people still assigned to the fire.

Cal Fire said one structure was destroyed, but reporters on the fire saw at least two destroyed homes and several burned up outbuildings.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Tom Stroing said crews seemed to have slowed the fire as of about 6:30 p.m.

"It's looking pretty good right now, yes," Stroing said. 

Update, 7:48 p.m.

Shasta College classes at the main campus are canceled Friday, but the school said its downtown-campus classes are still on. Classes are still on at the school's Tehama County campus as well, except for ITV classes. 

Update, 7:03 p.m.

The Mountain Fire is now 20 percent contained and remains at 600 acres. Redding Fire Chief Cullen Kreider said earlier in the evening that the fire grew to 820 acres, but Cal Fire said at 7 p.m. it was still 600 acres. Kreider then posted an update saying "600+ acres" had burned. 

The agency said it plans to do updates on acreage and containment every day at 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. 

As the afternoon wore on and firefighters got a handle on the blaze, Nathan Hale and Chris Collins continued to do work around Hale's sister's house on Creek Drive.

Hale said they cut fire line using a tractor and cut brush using a chain saw in case the fire threatened the sister's home.

"It was moving pretty good," Hale said of the fire.

Collins said that at one point he saw a man running down the road, trying to get home. Collins said he gave him a ride but they had to drive through an area with flames on both sides of the road and the house was surrounded by flames.

They were able to retrieve the dogs — one of them was blind — and take them to a a neighbor's house Collins said.

Update, 6:45 p.m.

Highway 299 is closed to west- and eastbound traffic from Deschutes Road to Old Oregon Trail, the California Highway Patrol is reporting.

The closure is prompted by the ongoing battle to bring the Mountain Fire under control.

The CHP says the closure is not affecting northbound traffic on Interstate 5.

Update, 5:55 p.m.

PG&E has restored power to 450 customers. They turned off power to about 1,200 because of the fire, meaning 750 or so are still without power, a spokesman said. 

Update, 5:50 p.m.

Oasis Road is now open at Akrich Street, but there's still a hard closure in place for Bear Mountain Road at Oasis Road. 

Update, 5:30 p.m.

The Mountain Fire is now 820 acres, Redding Fire Chief Cullen Kreider said. 

Update, 5:20 p.m.

Crews are "starting to get a handle" on the fire, a Cal Fire spokesperson said. 

But an update on acreage wasn't available as of about 5:15 p.m.

"We're making really good progress," said Cheryl Buliavac, a spokesperson for Cal Fire in Shasta County. 

Buliavac said the biggest challenge for firefighters right now is the northern end near Bear Mountain Road.  

Update, 4:45 p.m.

Sharon Jerge was stuck in traffic near the fire Thursday afternoon, trying to get to her pets after leaving to deliver a dog to the Bay Area, she said. 

Jerge said she normally doesn't like to leave the animals when there's fire danger because "This is what I was afraid of." 

4:40 p.m.: Residents evacuate with flames close behind

Terrie Smith evacuated from her home near the corner of Driftwood and Creek trail and drove down Bear Creek Road until she found some shade and cell phone service.

Smith, joined in her Subaru by her dog Bella and four cats, said she was nervous about whether her house survived the fire.

“It’ll be by the grace of God if my house is still standing,” she said.

She was working in her yard when sheriff’s deputies told her to leave. “I had no time to get anything,” she said

A home off Bear Mountain Road is engulfed in flames on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. The Mountain Fire in the Jones Valley is threatening 1,100 structures.

A home off Bear Mountain Road is engulfed in flames on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. The Mountain Fire in the Jones Valley is threatening 1,100 structures. (Photo: Mike Chapman/Record Searchlight)

When she left home with her animals and suitcases she could see flames on the hillside behind her house. A neighbor said there was fire in his yard, but she wasn’t sure about how her own home fared.

She was also concerned about the two horses that she left behind. She also had indoor cats, but she left a door ajar for them so they could escape the house.

Prior to Thursday's fire, Smith said she was worried the area north of Redding would get hit by fire this summer.

“We just had a feeling, all of us out here north of Redding, because the west side (of Redding) burned up last year,” she said. “So many family and friends lost their homes.”

While Smith, who lives south of Bear Mountain Road, was evacuated ahead of the fire. Many residents living on the north side of Bear Mountain Road were allowed to remain.

Crowds of people stood alongside the road and watched the smoke plumes in the distance and the occasional air tanker drop loads of retardant ahead of the fire.

Update, 4:20 p.m.

Steven Griffith said he stayed behind to save his home on Driftwood Trail, but there were moments when it appeared he was going to lose that battle.

He said the fire jumped Bear Mountain Road in a matter of minutes and raced south up the hill toward his house.

“My son was yelling, telling me ‘We gotta go! We gotta go!’ Everything was on fire,” Griffith said, pointing and moving his arm in a circle in the air.

He stayed behind while his wife, son and grandson left and got a motel in Redding.

“I’m 71 years old. If that house goes I do too,” he said.

While Griffith’s house survived, the fire destroyed several outbuildings, a fifth-wheel trailer, bicycles, tools and other items in his yard.

Griffith said as the fire encircled his home he ran around with a rake and shovel putting out spot fires, trying to keep them from getting larger.

He said a fire crew showed up and helped save his home as well, he said

While Griffith’s home was spared, another house just down the hill from him was destroyed. Only the metal frame of a trailer and other twisted metal remained.

4:05 p.m.: 3,885 people evacuated from the fire

There are 3,885 people evacuated from the fire, the sheriff's office announced. No one has been injured. 

4 p.m.: 1200 Pacific Gas & Electric Co. customers lose power

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has turned off the power of about 1,200 customers in the area of the Mountain Fire, spokesman Paul Moreno said.

The utility did it for the safety of the firefighters and others, Moreno said.

Update, 3:25 p.m.

Shasta County Sheriff's Lt. Anthony Bertain said 1,100 homes are threatened as of about 3:30 p.m. and roughly 3,800 people live the evacuated areas.

Meanwhile, Bertain said at this time there is no official place to take animals.

If residents want to bring their animals to Shasta College and watch them in the parking lot, Bertain said they can. But there is nobody at the college to supervise the animals.

Update, 2:52 p.m.

Shasta College spokesman Peter Griggs said he did not know why the evacuation was called. They got a call from the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office at about 2 p.m., he said.

At 2:40 p.m. Griggs said that the majority of the campus had been evacuated, including children at the campus’ Early Childhood Education Center. He did not have a count of how many people were on the campus at the time the evacuation was ordered.

Classes have been cancelled and Griggs said he did not know when they would resume.

Griggs said that faculty, staff or students with questions about the evacuation can call one of three phone numbers: 530-339-3606, 530-339-3662 and 530-339-3661.

2:35 p.m.: Highway 299 closed to westbound traffic

Highway 299 is now closed to westbound traffic at Deschutes Road due to the fire and Highway 299 remains closed to eastbound traffic at Old Oregon Trail, Caltrans said.

Officials are asking people to use alternate routes. 

Update, 2:15 p.m.

Traffic is now being stopped at Oasis Road and Akrich Street east of Interstate 5.

Meanwhile, roughly 50 students at Foothill High School in Palo Cedro need transportation after two of the schools bus routes were blocked after Route 299 was closed due to the Mountain Fire.

Foothill principal Steve Abbott says the school remains on high alert but classes have not been canceled and athletic activities are expected to continue as scheduled.

"We definitely have major concerns right now especially for the safety of the students who are in or near those burn areas," Abbott said. "The fire is about 9.5 miles from us and we don't see any smoke above our heads so the school is safe right now. We are working to make sure that those students get to their parents safely."

Some residents in the Jones Valley area had little time to evacuate.

Derek Chumney said he just got home from the dentist when he saw the fire bearing down on his home on Driftwood Trail in Jones Valley.

He did not have time to grab anything except his cats and his son, who was only wearing shorts, no shirt or shoes.

“When I pulled into the driveway I saw fire over here and fire over here and fire over there,” Chumney said.

His mother, Rhea Griffith, said she returned to the house a short time later and the building was destroyed.

“The only thing you could recognize was the partially melted swamp cooler,” Griffith said.

Chumney, Griffith, her grandson and a friend evacuated and booked a room at a hotel in Redding.

2 p.m.: Mountain Fire grows to 600 acres, doubles in size 

The Mountain Fire has grown to 600 acres as it's doubled in size in about an hour, Cal Fire said.

Update, 1:30 p.m.

The Shasta College campus on Old Oregon Trail in Redding has been evacuated, the school said via Twitter.

"All personnel including students, faculty, and staff need to exit the main campus in an orderly fashion," the school said.

Authorities gather around a road closure due to the Mountain Fire.

Authorities gather around a road closure due to the Mountain Fire. (Photo: Michael Chapman)

The tweet was posted at 1:18 p.m.

Officials are now setting up a fire command post at Shasta College.

Meanwhile, more road closures are being enacted, including Highway 299 at Old Oregon Trail, per Caltrans.

Update, 1:15 p.m.

The Mountain Fire has grown to 300 acres, Cal Fire said.

Officials are now evacuating residents on the north side or Highway 299, per emergency scanner reports.

Update, 1:10 p.m.

The evacuation shelter has moved to Crosspointe Community Church in Redding. The address is 2960 Hartnell Avenue. 

Jones Valley fire: See photos from the fast-moving Mountain Fire near Redding

Update, 12:57 p.m.

More evacuations are underway for the south side of Bear Mountain Road to Old Oregon Trail and all roads that intersect on the south side of Bear Mountain, the sheriff's office said. Still, the office has repeatedly urged residents to go if they feel they are in danger rather than waiting for their street to be called. 

Jones Valley Fire: What we know about the fire near Redding

Update, 12:50 p.m.

More evacuations are being called and the fire has grown to 200 acres. See the tweet below for the latest roads affected.

Update, 12:30 p.m.: Authorities estimate the size of the fire has grown to 150 to 200 acres, according to scanner communications. 

Additional evacuations have been announced by the Shasta County Sheriff's Office for residents at Creek Trail and Ravine Road in the Jones Valley-Bella Vista area, as well as for those on Marty Lane. 

The fast-moving Mountain Fire has grown to 150-200 acres, according to firefighters on the ground.

The fast-moving Mountain Fire has grown to 150-200 acres, according to firefighters on the ground. (Photo: Cal Fire)

Original story: Firefighters are battling a fast-moving 50-acre blaze today that is threatening structures in the Jones Valley area northeast of Redding.

The fire, which started in the area of Bear Mountain and Dry Creek roads shortly after 11 a.m., is "rapidly spreading," firefighters at the scene reported to emergency dispatchers.

Within an hour the fire had grown to more than 50 acres, according to emergency dispatch reports.

Evacuations are underway for the following areas: Dry Creek Road, Jones Valley Road, Elk Trail East and West, Christian Way, Driftwood Trail, Highview Trail, Scotts Trail and Marty Road west of Bear Mountain Road, according to the Shasta County Sheriff's Office.

An evacuation center has been set up at the Shasta College gym off Old Oregon Trail.

More roads might be evacuated, and residents shouldn't rely on the list alone, the sheriff's office said on Facebook. 

"This situation is very fluid and rapidly changing, if you do not see your road listed but feel you are in danger YOU MAY EVACUATE," the office's post reads.

Dry Creek Road is closed at Highway 299, according to Caltrans

Pushed by winds from the north, the fire quickly grew to 10 acres and started threatening structures, firefighters told dispatchers.

The Mountain Fire is burning in the Jones Valley area of Shasta County on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019.

The Mountain Fire is burning in the Jones Valley area of Shasta County on Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. (Photo: Cal Fire Shasta-Trinity Unit)

The California Highway Patrol traffic incident page said the fire may have spread to nearby brush and trees after a houseboat caught fire on Lake Shasta.

The plume of smoke from the fire is visible from Redding.


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