Fire Sparked at Emigrant Gap Campground Prompts Evacuations

EMIGRANT GAP -- Several campgrounds in the area of Emigrant Gap were evacuated Monday as crews battled an "aggressive" fire, according to the Placer County Sheriff's Office.

The sheriff's office reports the fire started at the North Fork Campground, which has now been evacuated. The Onion Valley and Tunnel Mills campgrounds on Texas Hill Road were also threatened by the flames and evacuated. Evacuations were also ordered at the Lake Valley Reservoir area.

The North Fire grew to just over 1,200 acres by Wednesday night and was 10 percent contained.

Part of the Gladko family was in a paddle boat when officials began rushing to campgrounds.

"They were screaming, 'Everybody get out. Everybody has to pack. Leave,'" recalled Inna Gladko. "I started freaking out. I was like, 'Babe, please let's go back. Our baby's there.'"

Four-month-old Ezra and the rest of his family made it out of the Lake Valley Reservoir campground after what they say was a congested but orderly evacuation. The stress of it all forced them to pull over after family member Irina Zakharchuk, who was four months pregnant, began feeling pains. She still can't quite believe what she saw.

"Started a bunch of helicopters grabbing water from right in front of us," Zakharchuk said.

Traffic on Interstate 80 has been impacted by the fire, prompting the sheriff's office to warn drivers to avoid the area. Caltrans reports the Emigrant Gap and Yuba Gap onramps and offramps were closed due to the fire.

James Fryer knew something was wrong when traffic was unusually bad on his regular route back to Sacramento after seeing his girlfriend in Reno. His own family recently had to run from the Ferguson Fire in Mariposa County, which burned for more than a month before being contained.

"The first thing I thought about were how many people were getting evacuated 'cause I've been through that just this summer," Fryer told FOX40. "So looking at this up here it always worries me. It always scares me 'cause my family goes through it all the time."

The U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire and the Placer County Sheriff's Office are all working together to get the situation under control. Water drops from the air are expected to resume at daybreak Tuesday.

Stay with FOX40 for more updates.

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