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CLEARLAKE OAKS, Calif. – Containment doubled on the Wye Fire over the course of Tuesday, as more than 1,200 firefighters worked on the incident, burning east of Clearlake Oaks.
The Wye Fire consists of the Wye and Walker fires, both of which were sparked on Sunday afternoon. The fires are located near the intersection of Highway 20 and 53 and Walker Ridge Road.
Cal Fire Incident Management Team 4 reported Tuesday night that the fire acreage had remained at 7,000 acres, with containment increasing to 60 percent.
The Walker portion of the fire, burning both in Lake and Colusa counties, required some evacuations for Bear Valley Road, north of Highway 20, and Wilbur Hot Springs Road.
Those evacuations remained in place on Tuesday, Cal Fire said, a day after Spring Valley residents who were evacuated due to the Wye portion of the fire were allowed to return home.
There were 1,219 fire personnel on scene Tuesday, along with 157 engines – of which 124 were from dozens of other fire agencies around the state – 28 fire crews, two airtankers, six helicopters, 24 bulldozers and 14 water tenders.
Cal Fire said the cause of the fires remains under investigation.
The fire had burned on both sides of Highway 20, hitting utility lines and poles.
Pacific Gas & Electric spokesperson Brittany McKannay said the company has been working closely with Cal Fire to mitigate the potential for power outages.
“So far we’ve been fairly successful in doing that,” she told Lake County News on Tuesday.
McKannay said PG&E didn’t have any significant outages due to the fire.
On Monday PG&E crews had been working on poles near the entrance of Spring Valley, where firefighters were working on mop up around a burn area.
The crews were working on pretreating power poles to minimize the chance of the poles catching fire, McKannay said.
Because of the Wye Fire, Lake County Air Quality Management issued an air quality alert for Wednesday, when conditions are to be “moderate” to “unhealthy for sensitive individuals.” Areas closer to the fires – the Northshore, Clearlake, and the county’s eastern portions – are of particular concern.
Air quality conditions had improved on Tuesday. While areas close to the fire experienced “significantly degraded air quality,” Air Pollution Control Officer Doug Gearhart reported that most areas of Lake County experienced good to moderate air quality, with particulate levels not exceeding state health-based air standards.
The district said weather forecasts are predicting favorable west winds that will push smoke out of the Lake County air basin most of Wednesday. However, because there is a chance the smoke could settle in the air basin overnight, smoke could linger Wednesday morning before the wind resumes.
For information about highway closures, call Caltrans at 800-427-7623; the Wye Fire Call Center can be reached at 707-967-4207 or 707-967-4208; Lake County Air Quality Management can be reached at 707-263-7000.
Email Elizabeth Larson at [email protected] .