NEVADA CITY, Calif. October 6, 2016 – What started out as a smoke check in the area of Hwy 49 and Cement Hill right before midnight last turned into a vegetation fire in the Hirschman’s Pond area. The fire was contained at under 1 acre shortly before 5:00 am this morning, with firefighters still mopping up by noon today.
At the height of the response, 10 engines and 2 hand crews were on scene, all hiking in to the fire. The very steep hillside, dense brush and treacherous terrain made for very hazardous firefighting. Luckily, no injuries were reported. Firefighters built handlines, cutting brush, removing fallen trees and literally scratching a line in the dirt, removing all vegetation.
The fire likely started off Hirschman’s Trail, in an area overgrown with thick Manzanita bushes, scraggly Madrones and some Pines dotting the landscape. Boulders and mining rubble left from the Gold Rush days give way to a quasi-vertical slope where the fire burned uphill. No structures were threatened and the power lines traversing the fire remained intact.
Even in daylight, the burned area is difficult to navigate. This reporter gained a lot of appreciation for the crews fighting the fire in the dark, avoiding getting stuck between boulders and ducking under dead branches on the steep slopes.
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The fire burned at a relatively slow rate of spread, thanks to higher relative humidities at night and cooler temperatures. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, no evidence of a transient camp was found in the immediate vicinity of the fire. However, glimpses of several camps in the area are visible from the trail.