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Twice burned

Electra Fire triggers painful memories for Butte Fire survivors

Trauma expert describes lasting impact of devastating wildfires

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A map shows the outline of the Butte Fire burn scar, with the recent Electra Fire (lighter pink area) overlaid. This map is for demonstration only and is not to scale.

The Electra Fire burned 4,478 Acres of hillsides in the Mokelumne River canyon this month, beginning on the afternoon of July 4. The fire ignited in Amador County (the cause remains under investigation) but quickly crossed the river to Calaveras and burned up the canyon walls, threatening homes in the surrounding areas of Mokelumne Hill, Pine Grove, and Glencoe. Evacuation warning areas expanded through West Point and Wilseyville to Rail Road Flat.

For many, this fire evoked fear and painful memories of the devastating Butte Fire of 2015, which followed much the same path as the Electra Fire, only covering a much larger area. Unlike the Butte Fire, Electra was knocked down quickly—reaching 99% containment just 10 days later—thanks to a quick and aggressive response by fire personnel.

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Mokelumne Hill resident and Butte Fire survivor C.J. Clark watches the smoke from the Electra Fire from his backyard. 

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Dead trees from the 2015 Butte Fire are still visible in the foreground, while smoke from the Electra Fire billows in the distance in this photo taken from Jesus Maria Road in Mokelumne Hill.

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Marie-Elena studied creative writing, art, and photography at University of Nebraska at Omaha, graduating with a BA in Studio Art -Visual Media. She moved to California from Nebraska in 2019 and is happy to call Calaveras County her home.

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