Sep. 9—The Mosquito Fire jumped from Placer County into El Dorado County on Thursday, burning several homes in the town of Volcanoville as officials investigated the origin of the 13,700-acre blaze and looked at whether Pacific Gas and Electric Co. equipment was to blame.
Firefighters said they did not yet have an estimate for how many structures were destroyed but confirmed that the fire had not overtaken the entire town, which had been destroyed in 1907 by wildfire.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said that the U.S. Forest Service placed caution tape around the base of one of its transmission poles in the area where the Mosquito Fire started. In an incident report to the California Public Utilities Commission, PG&E said that it "has observed no damage or abnormal conditions to the pole or our facilities ... has not observed down conductor in the area or any vegetation related issues. Our information reflects electrical activity occurred close in time to the report time of the fire."
The company said the investigation is ongoing.
Fire officials have said the origin of the fire, which began Tuesday evening near OxBow Reservoir east of Forest Hill in Placer County, is under investigation. The fire continued threatening several small communities and critical infrastructure in the steep, dry forested hills of Tahoe National Forest.
Volcanoville was founded in 1851 as a small trading post and eventually grew into a large Gold Rush town but never fully recovered from two wildfires in 18d been rebuilt following two fires in 1879 and 1907, according to El Dorado County's website.
Gov. Gavin Newsom called a state of emergency for the fire and the Fairview Fire in Southern California, which together have forced tens of thousands of people from their homes.
The developments in the Mosquito Fire came as California's record-breaking heat wave kept the state on edge another day Thursday. A massive pyrocumulus cloud above the fire continued growing, wildfire smoke began to affect air quality across a large area and officials pleaded with residents to conserve power yet again.
Residents of several communities in Placer County were ordered to evacuate, including Michigan Bluff and parts of Foresthill, with the Georgetown area under evacuation warning.
About 1,000 structures in Placer County were in jeopardy — including dams, transmission lines, a hydroelectric powerhouse and cellular and microwave transmission towers, according to a statement from Cal Fire. Community drinking water supplies were endangered, Cal Fire said.
Smoke from the Mosquito Fire was expected to push eastward Thursday night and into the interior portion of the state with the Sierra Nevada foothills being most affected, Sacramento-based National Weather Service meteorologist Sierra Littlefield told The Chronicle.
"In the overnight hours starting around midnight, we'll start to see smoke settle into areas in the Sierra and then slowly make its way down drainage valleys into the foothills and eastern portions of the Central Valley in the Sacramento region," Littlefield said.
Joel Umanzor (he/him) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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