All roads open after 40-acre fire near Auburn

Investigators hope for public help or information on possible cause
By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Old Foresthill Road was open again Wednesday to through traffic after being shut down late Monday because of a wildland fire. The fire erupted in the late afternoon, burning a total of 40 acres. It burned in a blaze that was first reported around 4 p.m. and was contained by about 7:30 p.m. Cal Fire Battalion Chief Bill Mendonca said Wednesday that the cause of the fire, which started near the entrance to the Mammoth Bar Off-Highway Vehicle park, was still under investigation. Anyone with information relevant to the fire should call headquarters at (530) 889-0111, referencing the “Old Fire, he said. The fire emergency temporarily shut down Foresthill Road and Old Foresthill Road’s traffic links between Auburn and the mountain communities of Foresthill and Michigan Bluff. Old Foresthill Road re-opened late Tuesday. Highway 49 through the American River canyon between Cool and Auburn was also closed temporarily Monday. Mendonca said because of a miscommunication and the belief by some that the fire was on the El Dorado County side of the Middle Fork American River canyon, the road to Cool over the Highway 49 bridge from Auburn was inadvertently shut off for a short time by the California Highway Patrol. When Cal Fire discovered the problem, it was able to re-open the road and close the Old Foresthill Road, he said. “It’s better to be safe than sorry,” Mendonca said. Bill Huber, a Cool resident who was stuck in his vehicle on Highway 49 at the confluence during the initial confusion, said he was there for at least an hour. Huber said traffic was backing up on the Placer County side of the canyon and his concern was that emergency vehicles couldn’t get down. “I feel that the coordination broke down,” he said. The Mammoth Bar OHV park was open Wednesday, as scheduled. As a result of dry conditions in the recreation area, the parks department is banning open fires in campgrounds. The ban will be in effect until the end of the camping season. Ruck-a-Chucky, Mineral Bar and Lake Clementine campgrounds are all under the new open-fire ban. Parks officials are asking campers to bring gas stoves to cook with. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at