New wildfire sends residents scrambling in Butte County

Gray and black smoke rises from a green wooded area with brown hills in the background
In this screen shot from a PG&E web camera, a vegetation fire in Butte County burns on Tuesday.

A vegetation fire ignited in Butte County on Tuesday and quickly grew to nearly 12 acres, spurring evacuation orders for nearby residents for about an hour.

The fire, dubbed the Fourteenth fire, began just before noon near Grand Avenue and 14th Street in the community of Thermalito, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter.

By 12:15 p.m., officials had issued urgent orders telling residents to to leave, with the Butte County Unit of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection saying that structures were threatened.


“It’s burning mostly in grass and brush, but grass fires can move and grow really quickly,” said Cal Fire spokesman Rick Carhart, noting that at least 10 engines, four water tenders and a bulldozer were working to quench the flames.

Cal Fire officials initially estimated that the size of the blaze at 25 acres, but later revised that to 11.5 acres after more accurate mapping.

The evacuation orders and warnings were lifted around 1 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office said, with residents allowed to return to their homes.

An image of the burgeoning fire captured by PG&E cameras showed a massive plume of black smoke rising into the air shortly after it ignited. Officials declared forward progress stopped around 1:15 p.m.

Fast-moving fires are becoming more frequent amid the state’s bone-dry vegetation — which has been exacerbated by the recent heat waves and drought, wildfire experts have said.

A much larger fire, the Dixie fire, is already burning in Butte County, but Carhart said that blaze was moving away from the Fourteenth fire.


The Dixie fire on Tuesday was at more than 60,000 acres and 15% contained.