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NEWS/VIDEO REPORT: 40-acre wildfire cuts off Foresthill Divide for three hours

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A wildland fire that broke out late Monday afternoon between Old Foresthill Road and Foresthill Road shut down vehicle traffic for nearly three hours to and from the Foresthill Divide. The 40-acre fire was contained by 7:40 p.m., Cal Fire prevention volunteer Pat Burger said. The fire was reported at about 4 p.m. and firefighting crews established a base along Old Foresthill Road while traffic was stopped at the Highway 49 entrance into the canyon from Auburn and at Foresthill Road and Lincoln Way, near the Foresthill Bridge. By about 5:45 p.m., traffic was again being allowed onto Highway 49 into the American River Canyon but access was still not allowed onto Old Foresthill Road. One-way traffic was escorted along Foresthill Road, starting at about 7:15 p.m. A plume of white smoke rising hundreds of feet in the air could be seen from miles around as fire crews moved in on a blaze located on a canyon slope between Old Foresthill Road and Foresthill Road. The fire originated about 100 yards away from the entrance to the Mammoth Bar OHV riding site in the Auburn State Recreation Area. State Park Ranger Scott Liske said no structures were threatened in an area of steep canyon land dense with chamise, grass, oak and scrub pine. As a precautionary measure, six campers were evacuated from the Lake Clementine campground. Firefighters battled not only the heavy smoke but 90-degree temperatures and gusting winds from the west. Burger said one firefighter suffered a minor injury. The wait to get home to Foresthill was a long one for commuters. The 17-mile mountain road between Auburn and Foresthill was cut off to traffic at the crossroads with Old Foresthill Road and at Bowman's Foresthill exit. Foresthill's Carolyn Vanover Scheld was waiting in her car to go through from the Foresthill side to Auburn from about 4:55 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. "I would have gone back home but I'm in the middle of work," Vanover Scheld said, as she watched a line of hundreds of cars move by in the opposite direction after the California Highway Patrol started escorting one-way traffic through. Vanover Scheld said she could accept the wait. "Delays are fine," she said. "Safety is more important." The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.