California’s Mosquito Fire Grows to More Than 73,000 Acres

by Shelby Scott

The California Mosquito Fire became the state’s largest wildfire of the year last week. Already, it has forced tens of thousands of residents to flee their homes with the little they could carry with them. Now, the blaze has grown to more than 73,000 acres. It currently holds at 21% contained, but new weather reports suggest the fire might hit a “speed bump” over the weekend.

According to Fox News, the Mosquito Fire burns 110 miles northeast of San Francisco, scorching homes and structures since breaking out on September 6th. KCRA, an NBC affiliate, states gusty winds on Saturday complicated firefighters’ efforts to further contain the fire. That said, though, they did prevent it from jumping intentionally lit fire lines. Hopefully, firefighting efforts continue to improve Sunday as the region expects to see a drop in wind speeds and at least an inch of rain amid cooler temperatures. Rainy, cool conditions are reportedly expected through Wednesday. Wildfire analysts expect the Mosquito Fire to hit a “speed bump” as a result.

Still, weather conditions are, ultimately, unpredictable, and rain forecasts could quickly dissipate at any time. As such, the Mosquito Fire continues to threaten more than 9,000 homes and buildings as crews work toward further containment.

For now, the first responders battling the Mosquito Fire continue to light backfires intended to burn out brush that could serve as fuel for the devastating blaze. Public information officer Scott McClean said crews responding to the Mosquito Fire have “been very successful [lighting backfires] and they will continue to do that.”

To keep the blaze from rolling over other California homes, firefighters have also been walking the fire’s perimeter, traveling across canyons and ridges with heavy machinery as well as tools, hoes, and shovels to help contain the fire. They’ve also soaked areas of the forest to prevent it from catching fire.

Some Californians Remain in Mosquito Fire’s Path Despite Evacuation Efforts

The Mosquito Fire is currently half the size of the devastating 2018 Camp Fire that completely decimated a California town. However, weather conditions imply that, if not carefully contained, the new blaze could cause just as much damage as the previous inferno. The Camp Fire took the lives of more than 80 civilians and injured handfuls of others. In addition, it steamrolled 18,000 structures and left a lasting impression on survivors. The Mosquito Fire continues to burn with the same intensity. So when evacuation orders were issued last week, you’d assume wildfire survivors would get the heck out of Dodge. Surprisingly though, some California residents have chosen to stay behind.

Last week, Fox News states as many as 11,000 Californians evacuated Placer and El Dorado counties. One resident, however, has stayed behind to feed the local deer population and keep an eye on his neighbor’s homes.

Speaking about his decision not to evacuate, Heller explained, “If you spend enough time with [the deer], you become attached.” Per the outlet, Heller typically feeds a herd of deer numbering anywhere between 20 and 30 individuals. “I just had to make sure…I see them in a panic mode, you can read ’em.”

The California resident also said that while feeding the deer, he’s also looking out for his neighbors as he’s worried about looters while they’re gone.

“One guy’s gotta stay, right?” he asked.