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Firefighters Look To Seize Control Of Placer County Blaze

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Nick Janes joined KOVR/KMAX in December 2008 as a reporter. Nick...
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FORESTHILL (CBS13) – Crews are hoping to make a big push against the Robbers Fire in rural Placer County with the break in the weather.

“The next few days are pretty critical,” Cal Fire’s Nick Garcia said Monday afternoon. “Now’s our chance to get ahold of this thing.”

That’s because there’s finally been a break from Mother Nature, which means precious time for firefighters to take advantage of cooler temperatures and higher humidity to try to gradually gain the upper hand on the Robbers Fire in rugged terrain near Foresthill.

Crews were making slow but steady progress Monday, putting out spot fires and strengthening containment lines around the blaze, which as of Tuesday morning was 50 percent contained and had covered 2,650 acres. Evacuations remain in effect for homes off Yankee Jims Canyon and Shirttail Canyon area, as well as parts of Iowa Hill.

Monday’s high temperature in the low 70s was about 20-25 degrees cooler than when the fire first started last Wednesday when the heat hit triple digits.

“Right now we have another spot fire in the canyon where the crew below us is working,” Garcia said.

On the front lines, they’re working 24 hours on, 24 hours off in this rugged canyon. It is grueling work.

“Some of the slopes are almost vertical and to get crews into those areas sometimes is impossible,” Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant.

Cal Fire continues to rely heavily on air drops for those hillsides impossible to reach on the ground.

It is a race against time to see how much they can get done before temperatures climb later this week and winds could shift in the opposite direction.

At least for now, things appear to be heading in the right direction.

“We are really hopeful in the next few days we’re really going to start to see the tides turn here,” Berlant said.

Meanwhile, displaced residents Monday were told it would still be another day or two before they could return to their home.

One evacuated family worried about their pet goat was relieved to hear Cal Fire officials went to their home to feed and check on the animal.

“If we can help them put their mind at ease, be evacuated with a little less stress, than that’s what were here for,” Berlant said.

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