Between Wednesday and Thursday morning, the Mosquito Fire burning in Placer and El Dorado counties grew around 14,000 acres as firefighters focused on saving the town of Foresthill on the fire's western front, and trying to create containment lines in the steep and rugged terrain of the fire's eastern front.
The Mosquito Fire has officially surpassed the still smoldering McKinney Fire up along the Klamath River to become the largest fire so far in California's 2022 wildfire season. As of this morning, the Mosquito Fire has burned 64,159 acres, and it is 20% contained.
At 99% containment after 47 days, the McKinney Fire burned over 60,000 acres, destroyed 185 structures, and caused four fatalities.
So far the Mosquito Fire's damages have been kept to a minimum, with an estimated 70 structures destroyed so far, and no injuries or fatalities to date. But around 11,000 residents remain under evacuation warnings, and the fire continues to threaten the communities of Foresthill, Todd Valley, and Volcanoville.
"Today’s priorities remain securing each of the three corners of the fire," says Cal Fire in its latest incident report. "Firefighters have been very successful in holding the control lines along the communities of Todd Valley and Foresthill despite challenging fire conditions on Tuesday."
Kevin Tidwell, Cal Fire's public information officer on the Mosquito Fire, tells the New York Times today, higher humidity over the next few days could help the firefight, and light southwesterly winds could help blow smoke and flames away from the populated areas of Todd Valley and Foresthill — while blowing more smoke toward Reno.
The large eastern front of the fire could gain steam from those same winds, though, pushing the fire further into the Sierra west of Lake Tahoe, which remain filled with crispy dry trees and brush.
"It’s still those critically dry fuels that are the issue," Tidwell tells the Times.
In some good news, a second pyrocumulus cloud created by the fire on Wednesday quickly dissipated. Such clouds have the ability to throw embers many hundreds of feet outside existing fire lines, creating new spot fires and growing the fire's perimeter exponentially.
The Mosquito Fire broke out a week ago Tuesday, on September 6, and has grown steadily in the days since. It continues burning about 30 miles west of the Lake Tahoe basin, and in an area of Placer County northeast of Sacramento.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but we already know that PG&E's equipment likely had something to do with it, according to an incident report they filed with the Public Utilities Commission days after the fire began. The company noted an electrical fault in a line in the vicinity of the fire's ignition point, right around the time the fire began on September 6, but they claimed to have found no damaged equipment so far.
Top image: Firefighters light a controlled burn during the Mosquito Fire on September 14, 2022 in Foresthill, California. The Mosquito fire has became California’s largest wildfire of the year. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)