The Electra Fire, which ignited on July 4 along the Amador-Calaveras county line, tripled in size entering Tuesday morning, as firefighters struggled to contain the blaze amid the steep and rugged terrain.
As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, the fast-moving wildfire burning in the Sierra foothills had grown to more than 3,000 acres — up from 959 acres Monday night — and was 0% contained. At least 450 structures and “critical power infrastructure” were threatened, causing widespread evacuations, according to Cal Fire.
The cause of the blaze was unknown; fire crews were dispatched to the Mokelumne River at about 3:44 p.m. July 4 for a vegetation fire burning to the south, Cal Fire reported. Steep and rugged terrain has made it challenging for firefighters to gain access to the flames, but firefighters were dropping fire retardant from the air to slow the fire’s spread.
Late Monday night, about 100 visitors and PG&E workers were safely evacuated from a PG&E powerhouse in Amador County, according to Cal Fire. Families enjoying the July 4 holiday along the North Fork of the Mokelumne River were forced to suddenly take shelter at the power station early Monday evening as the fire rapidly expanded.
The power station is about five miles southeast of Jackson, a father of two told CBS13 in Sacramento by phone Monday evening.
The father, who was identified by CBS13 as John Patrick, said that after the fire erupted near Vox Beach — a popular recreation spot along the river — he and his wife could definitely “see the fire and smell the smoke” before they were evacuated. Patrick said it smelled as though someone along the river might have started a small bonfire. But pretty “quickly,” he said, firefighters swept in and had people move to the power station.
An enormous cloud of smoke could be seen as far away as Sacramento Monday evening. PG&E said that power was out for more than 13,000 customers in Amador County.
Mandatory evacuation orders were in place for all residents in the Butte Mountain Road area in Amador County and North of Highway 26 — from Montgomery Drive to Lower Dorray Road in Calaveras County.
Evacuation shelters were set up at the Italian Picnic Grounds located at 581 Highway 49 in Sutter Creek and at San Andreas Town Hall at 24 Church Hill Road. The Amador County Fairgrounds was also accepting large animals.