FLYING Magazine

Placerville Airport (KPVF), located in California’s Gold Country about 45 miles northeast of Sacramento, has temporarily closed as authorities assess damage caused by a fast-moving wildfire.

“The fire came right up to the runway,” said Wendy Oakes, public information officer for Cal Fire Amador-El Dorado Unit.

According to Oakes, the blaze that is known as the Pay Fire began Saturday in vegetation on Pay Dirt Road near the airport. 

The airport covers 243 acres at an elevation of 2,585 feet. The runway, aligned 5/23, sits atop a mesa with a steep drop-off. According to AirNav.com, the GA airport has approximately 80 aircraft on site. 

[Courtesy:Cal Fire Amador-Eldorado]

Per local reports, the fast-moving blaze traveled uphill toward the airport, prompting aircraft owners—some of them volunteer firefighters—to scramble to the scene to rescue their aircraft and assist in defending the airport. 

The airport is also the location for the Hangtown VOR (HNW). According to a notice to air mission (NOTAM), the VOR is out of service until July 19.

Access to the aircraft in the hangars was a challenge as the power to the airport had been shut off—a common practice when fire threatens a community. The shut-off, however, made it difficult to open hangar doors.

Evacuation orders were issued for the surrounding community and people fled their homes. 

Photographs and video, including those released by Cal Fire, show flames in trees higher than the tops of hangars and aircraft parked on the ramp shrouded in smoke while fire crews scrambled to keep the blaze from reaching the structures or aircraft. CBS affiliate KOVR-TV in Sacramento initially reported that there was hangar damage.

The airport will remain closed until July 13, a FAA NOTAM said.

By Tuesday afternoon, local evacuation orders had been lifted, and people were allowed to return to their homes, according to Oakes. She added that the fire was held to 77 acres and was 65 percent contained.

Cal Fire crews remained on scene to take care of any hotspots that pop up, Oakes said.

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