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Fire breaks out in American River canyon

Flames attack canyon wall on El Dorado County side
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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UPDATE: 10:30 A.M. FRIDAY, SEPT. 7: BURN FOOTPRINT INCREASES

Cal Fire is reporting today that the Sliger Fire has reached 150 acres - up 50 percent from Thursday morning.

At the same time, containment is reported to also have increased as firefighters continue to gain the upper hand - from 45 percent Thursday to 65 percent today.

All evacuations have been lifted and road closures are no longer taking place, Cal Fire said. Forward progress was declared stopped by fire authorities on Thursday.

The fire broke out on Tuesday afternoon in the middle fork American River canyon below Sliger Mine Road in El Dorado County, resulting in evacuations of lightly populated areas in the vicinity of the blaze. Cal Fire said the cause of the fire continues to be under investigation.

Containment lines were being strengthened and hot spots inside the fire zone were being mopped up today, Cal Fire said.

UPDATE: 9:10 A.M. THURSDAY, SEPT. 6: UPPER HAND GAINED IN SLIGER FIRE FIGHT 

Firefighters are closer today to corraling the Sliger Fire burning in the Greenwood area of El Dorado County.

The Placer County Sheriff's Office lifted a mandatory evacuation order late Wednesday, allowing residents in an area between Foresthill and Auburn threatened by the Sliger Fire to return to their homes.

The order was instituted Tuesday night, hours after the Sliger Fire erupted about 8 miles east of Auburn on the El Dorado County side of the middle fork American River canyon. The evacuation order affected residents of the McKeon Ponderosa Road area.

Firefighters were able to halt the spread of the fire, with Cal Fire reporting today that 104 acres had been burned in the Auburn State Recreation Area off Sliger Mine Road - up from 90 acres reported Wednesday morning. Containment had risen during the same period from 30 percent to 45 percent.

"Forward progress has stopped," Cal Fire said this morning. "Fire activity has decreased significantly."

All Placer County road closures were to have been lifted by 7 a.m. this morning.

The Sheriff's Office was warning Todd Valley area residents that the fire danger could worsen and that they should stay ready for another possible evacuation if conditions change.

UPDATE: 10:30 A.M. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 5: EL DORADO COUNTY FIRE-SIDE VOLUNTARY EVACUATIONS

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office is now asking for voluntary evacuations in the area of Sliger Mine Road north of Spanish Dry Diggins as the Sliger Fire moves into a second day. Residents should use Spanish Dry Diggins road to drive out of the area so emergency vehicles can access the fire, the Sheriff's Office said.

UPDATE: 8:30 A.M. WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 5: EVACUATIONS STAY TODAY

The Sliger Fire between Foresthill and Auburn stayed on the El Dorado County side of the middle fork American River canyon overnight, the Placer County Sheriff's Office reported today.

But mandatory evacuations remain in place in Placer County and residents will not be allowed back into the area until further notice.

On the other side of the canyon in El Dorado County, evacuation orders were lifted overnight. Cal Fire spokesman Brice Bennett said the fire is closer to Placer County canyon homes and no evacuations are planned on the El Dorado County side today.

The fire footprint had reached 80 acres and Cal Fire is estimating that it is 30 percent contained, with fire lines around the blaze and water and fire retardent drops from the air working on hard-to-access areas in steeper terrain.  

UPDATE: 6 P.M. TUESDAY, SEPT. 4: EVACUATIONS ON PLACER COUNTY SIDE

With the threat of the Sliger Fire jumping the American River canyon into Placer County, the Placer County Sheriff's Office has issued an evacuation order that takes in lightly populated areas in an area between Auburn and Foresthill that could be threatened.

Lt. Andrew Scott said mandatory evacuations are in effect on McKeon Ponderosa Road and all roads leading to the west from McKeon Ponderosa, as well as Moshiron Drive, Shady Oak Drive, Quarry Turn Road, Pine Crest Drive and Gas Canyon Court.

"We hope the fire won't cross the river but we don't want to wait until it does (to evacuate nearby residents)," Scott said.

The gym at Regional Park on Richardson Drive in North Auburn has been set up for evacuees. Animals can be brought to the nearby Placer County Animal Shelter.

UPDATE: 5:30 P.M. TUESDAY, SEPT. 4: EVACUATIONS ORDERED AS SLIGER FIRE SPREADS

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Office said more than 200 homes in the Sliger Mine Road area off Highway 193 in El Dorado County had been evacuated as a result of a wildfire spreading in the middle fork American River canyon.

Evacuations in that area had been declared mandatory. Sliger Mine Road was closed at the highway.

Anyone evacuating animals was being advised to take them to the El Dorado County Animal Shelter.

An evacuation center has been set up at Northside School on Highway 49 in Cool.

The fire footprint had reached 65 acres but embers or fire had not jumped the American River into Placer County, the Placer County Sheriff's Office reported.  

ORIGINAL REPORT: FIRE BREAKS OUT IN AMERICAN RIVER CANYON

A fire that broke out this afternoon and had consumed more than 20 acres was marching up the side of middle fork American River canyon between Auburn and Foresthill.

The fire was reported at about 3 p.m. off Sliger Mine Road in the area of the canyon about 7 miles east of Auburn near Oregon Bar.

Fire rigs from several districts were dispatched to a ledge off Foresthill Road on the other side of the canyon from El Dorado County where a vantage point allowed emergency personnel to observe the blaze move steadily uphill, driven by a breeze traveling away from the Placer County side. The road remained open between Auburn and Foresthill at 4 p.m.

The attack to rein in the fire was coming from the air and on the ground as a smoke plume rose high in the sky from the Auburn State Recreation Area.