Firefighters increase containment, but warn wind could spread flames

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Firefighters increased containment on the Rices Fire in Nevada County over Friday night, but warned that windy weather Saturday could spread the fire across county lines and threaten yet another small community.

Containment inched up from 24% to 26% overnight, Cal Fire officials reported. The Rices Fire, fueled by drought-parched fuel, stood at 904 acres as of Saturday morning, but firefighters expected wind gusts up to 22 miles per hour throughout the day could slow progress.

“Despite the lower temperatures and increased humidity, these winds create the potential for spreading the fire across the Yuba River and into Yuba County, as well as threaten to spread the fire to the north into the community of North San Juan,” Cal Fire’s incident report read.

North San Juan is an old Gold Rush town with a population of 151 at the last census.

The Rices Fire is one of two dozen that have already ignited this year in drought-stricken California, signaling the start to what could be a severe fire season. The blaze in Nevada County, the largest active fire in the state, has drawn 1,279 firefighters, including from Alameda County.

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