Two fast-burning grass fires in Butte County prompt evacuation orders; one jumps to 1,000 acres

Firefighters were able to stop forward progress Saturday afternoon on two fast-moving grass fires in Butte County that together charred roughly 1,100 acres, prompting evacuations and burning at least two structures.

The largest fire, called the Junes Fire, started just after 3 p.m. along Four Junes Way and Palermo Honcut Highway, five miles south of Palermo, according to Butte County Fire officials, a unit of Cal Fire. The fire, burning 55 miles north of Sacramento, charred 1,056 acres, said Battalion Chief John Gaddie, a spokesman for Cal Fire BTU.

Mandatory evacuations were issued for about two hours in three zones and voluntary evacuations were given in three more before the most serious evacuations were downgraded. By 7 p.m., all evacuations had been lifted.

Crews on the ground reported forward progress had been stopped about 6:30 p.m., Cal Fire said.

In a Sunday afternoon update, Cal Fire officials said acreage remained unchanged as containment grew to 70%.

Minutes later, another vegetation fire north of Lake Oroville in the Feather Falls area, dubbed the Rocky Fire, burned 17.2 acres. Firefighters said at 9 p.m. that retardant and hose lines had been laid down around fire.

Authorities said the blaze — which started on the 200 block of Rocky Point Road and was burning on the southeast side of the reservoir in an area burned by the 2020 Claremont Fire — had posed a threat to at least one structure.

Just after 5:30 p.m., as a state mapping plane pegged the fire at 10 acres, mandatory evacuations were ordered in four zones. All evacuations were lifted around 9 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office said.

The area is set to fall under a red flag warning Saturday evening, but Gaddie said conditions were ripe for a blaze — he reported north winds in the area with “light, flashy fuels” contributing to the fast-moving flames.

The National Weather Service extended the red flag warning for most of the Sacramento Valley and eastern Sierra foothills through 8 a.m. Tuesday.