September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Bennett Fire in Nevada County at 70% containment

Wildfire Watch

NEVADA COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — The Bennett Fire caused Grass Valley to be on high alert, issuing evacuations Wednesday.

“It was just raging, just tree topping, cars were exploding over here. It was pretty intense,” said Jeff Hansen.

Jeff Hansen and his son Russell watched as the flames strengthened.

“When we were driving, you could watch the smoke and it just kept on coming and coming,” Russell Hansen said.

So, the father and son team brought their water tank to help fire crews put out the fire. But the aggressive aerial attack is what played a huge role in slowing down the fire.

Crews also got lucky that light winds prevailed for most of the afternoon. They were able to get a handle on a fire that threw out several spot fires.

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“It really makes a difference to slow those fires and spot those spot fires and get resources on them,” said Cal Fire Division Chief Jim Mathias.

Mathias says he was worried about what the Bennett Fire would do as the state deals with extreme drought, fuels and knowing much of the state’s resources were tied up at other fires. He and his team weren’t going to waste any time with the city under a threat.

“Anytime those folks are in the danger, we are going to send as many resources as we can,” Mathias said. “Even the littlest embers will catch on fire and make us have to react to these embers.”

Now, he’s able to breathe a little easier.

“We feel a lot better now,” Mathias said.

And so does the city of Grass Valley.

“We are just fortunate to have all these resources come together and knock this thing down quickly,” Jeff Hansen said. “It really could have turned into a major blaze and pretty catastrophic for the county.”

Another thing that helped get the fire under control quickly was the airport, which was only a few miles away. It allowed planes and helicopters to reload and attack the fire before it got worse.

The fire burned about 50 acres and is at 70% containment. Officials are allowing some areas to be repopulated.

This story is developing. Check back for more updates.

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