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All Mosquito Fire evacuation orders lifted as rain graces Northern California foothills

The Mosquito Fire has grown to become California’s largest wildfire of 2022.|

Continued rain in the Northern California foothills has helped largely quench the Mosquito Fire, with officials reporting more containment progress Tuesday as all of the more than 11,000 residents displaced earlier this month by the wildfire have been allowed to return home.

Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service reported the fire Wednesday morning at 76,290 acres (119 square miles).

No growth has been observed since Sunday evening, with about 2½ inches of rain falling over the fire zone since then, officials wrote in a morning incident report. The blaze is now 49% contained, up from 39% Tuesday morning.

“The key word for the last 48 hours has been rain, rain and more rain,” Dave Soldavini, Cal Fire operations section chief, said in a Wednesday morning briefing.

At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the Placer County Sheriff’s Office announced that all Mosquito Fire evacuation orders had been lifted in Placer County. Sheriff’s officials said the Tahoe National Forest remained closed to the public, along with several road closures.

On Wednesday afternoon, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office announced several evacuation warnings were lifted. Sheriff’s officials said a mandatory evacuation order was reduced to a evacuation warning for the Stumpy Meadows; the only area in the El Dorado County still under a warning. Four roads in the county remained closed due to the fire.

The National Weather Service earlier this week issued a flash flood watch for the Mosquito Fire area, due to the potential for heavy rain and thunderstorms to produce debris flow on fresh burn scars, but it was allowed to expire at midnight Tuesday with no significant flooding incidents recorded.

Crews are preparing for the storm to end, with dry, warmer weather returning Thursday to the region.

More than 2,400 personnel remain assigned to the fire, according to Cal Fire, down from more than 3,900 at the peak of the battle last week. Fire crews are working to complete containment, especially on the eastern flank.

The Mosquito Fire sparked the evening of Sept. 6 near Oxbow Reservoir, spreading rapidly in its early days and then flaring back to life last week.

The fire’s initial sprint saw flames jump the Middle Fork of the American River from north to south, into the El Dorado County town of Volcanoville.

In last week’s flare-up, the blaze jumped the river in the opposite direction, with an 1,100-acre spot fire racing toward Foresthill and Todd Valley. Fire crews successfully defended the two towns, holding the fire south of Foresthill Road.

Cal Fire says 78 structures have been destroyed and 13 others damaged, according to its completed damage assessment. Most of the destruction came in the Placer County community of Michigan Bluff, as well as in Volcanoville.

The Mosquito Fire has grown to become California’s largest wildfire of 2022. Its cause remains under investigation.

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