Mosquito fire scorches over 63,000 acres, destroys at least 64 structures


A firefighter suppresses fire near a road sign, 9/7/2022. Photo by Michael Steinberg.

The Mosquito fire, burning in Placer and El Dorado Counties, has charred over 63,000 acres while exhibiting extreme wildfire behavior. It has forced the entire town of Foresthill, approximately 78 miles east of Sacramento, to evacuate along with numerous small mountain communities. It is only 20 percent contained. 

According to the Placer County Sheriff’s office, 64 structures have been destroyed. Yesterday afternoon, the fire jumped across the American river and directly threatened the town of Foresthill. Air tankers were requested, and a no-divert status was placed on four tankers due to an imminent life safety threat. 

The fire started last week on Sept. 6 near Mosquito Ridge Road and steadily grew throughout the night. Evacuations were put out for parts of Placer County, which included the small community of Michigan Bluff.

A Cal Fire hand crew walks to be assigned, 9/7/2022. Photo by Michael Steinberg.
A Cal Fire hand crew walks to be assigned, 9/7/2022. Photo by Michael Steinberg.

The following Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 7 and 8, the fire produced active crowning runs, rapid rates of spread and large pyrocumulus clouds. On Sept. 8 the fire displayed its most extreme behavior, with cloud tops of the pyrocumulus reaching over 40,000 feet. The plume was visible from San Francisco, Chico and Red Bluff. 

Smoke from the fire impacted air quality in Chico Saturday morning, with Air Quality Index (AQI) levels well into the unhealthy status for all people. 

The unhealthy air quality also affected some of Chico State’s athletics. Chico State Women’s Soccer had their game against Biola University canceled, along with a Cal Poly Humboldt-Azusa Pacific match at University Soccer Stadium.

Michael Steinberg can be reached at [email protected] or @MichaelWX18 on Twitter.