Skip to comments.Western Wildfires 7/7/07 - Inyo and Los Padres National Forests
Posted on 07/07/2007 3:14:13 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
A wildfire burned into a wilderness area of Los Padres National Forest on Saturday, threatening some campgrounds and showing no sign of slowing down as it moved through tinder-dry chaparral in Santa Barbara County.
The fire was heading east and threatened some campgrounds and the historic Manzana schoolhouse, a century-old wooden building, fire spokesman Andy Yamamoto said.
The fire was burning in a steep, remote area in brush and oak woodlands that had not seen flames for some 40 years, Yamamoto said.
More than 1,200 firefighters were on the line, battling flames by hand or with bulldozers and aided by nearly two dozen aircraft.
Yamamoto said 11 crew members had been treated for heat exhaustion or minor injuries since the blaze began.
Temperatures were expected to be in the high 80s to mid-90s and humidity remained low Saturday.
Roads in the fire area were closed along with portions of the wilderness area.
The fire began outside the park near Los Olivos on Wednesday. It was ignited by sparks from grinding equipment as workers repaired a water pipe on private property, Yamamoto said.
Farther south, a 100-acre fire in San Diego County was contained Friday night. The blaze in the desert mountains along the U.S. border with Mexico may have been sparked by a campfire, authorities said.
No buildings were threatened and no injuries were reported.
Lightening sparks wildfires in Inyo National Forest
By RACHEL KONRAD - ap
Three wildfires ignited by a lightning storm were spreading quickly Saturday morning through a popular wilderness park in the Sierra’s eastern front, officials said.
No injuries or fatalities had been reported, but more than 400 firefighters were battling the blaze that consumed 17,000 acres of the 2-million-acre Inyo National Forest, forest spokeswoman Nancy Upham said Saturday.
Firefighters were also searching for and evacuating an unknown number of day hikers and overnight backpackers.
Highway 395, which runs along the eastern spine of the mountain range, was closed from Lone Pine to Big Pine, and many smaller roads leading from the highway into the mountains were also closed. Numerous campgrounds and a lodge had also been evacuated, Upham said.
The hour-long storm that set off the blazes began around 2 p.m. Friday, igniting about 10 fires in and around the rugged park. The fires began in steep, difficult-to-reach terrain, stoked by daytime temperatures in the 90s and very low humidity, officials said.
The three fires that remained by 9:30 a.m. Saturday were completely uncontained, Upham said.
The fires had spread overnight beyond park boundaries, into nearby Bureau of Land Management territory, onto water-system land owned by the city of Los Angeles, and into the Fort Independence Indian Reservation.
“Most of our fires stay pretty small,” Upham said. “We are surprised at how aggressively this fire burned yesterday - it’s a testament to how very dry everything here is.”
Crews Saturday morning continued to seek backpackers trekking through the John Muir Wilderness, a 100-mile stretch in the Sierra Nevada that includes the tallest peak in the lower 48 states, the 14,496-foot Mount Whitney. It is one of the most heavily visited wildernesses in the nation.
Upham said the backpackers didn’t appear to be in immediate danger. It was unknown how many hikers were on the trails, but about 25 cars were parked overnight Friday at the Onion Valley Trail Head.
Several ranches, houses and buildings were threatened by the fire but no damage has been reported, Upham said.
The flare-up came about a week after firefighters managed to fully contain the Lake Tahoe fire that consumed 3,100 acres south of the scenic alpine lake and destroyed 254 homes.
But Upham said the relatively remote location of the Inyo park fire made it “nothing like the scale of the Lake Tahoe fire.”
Meanwhile, nearly 300 miles north in the Plumas National Forest, a lightening storm Thursday sparked wildfires that had already torched 11,500 acres and were expected to consume more brush Saturday.
About 650 firefighters were battling a blaze near Antelope Lake on Saturday - and officials say this weekend is a critical time because lightening is expected in Plumas County on Monday and Tuesday. The fire was only 10 percent contained Saturday morning but had not destroyed or damaged any buildings.
Upham emphasized that people planning trips to national forests or other wildernesses shouldn’t necessarily cancel because of fire danger, but she recommended that they take precautions like bringing a day’s worth of extra food in case a fire reroutes or blocks trails.
Heat wave fuels Western wildfires
MARTIN GRIFFITH, Associated Press Writer
RENO, Nev. - Wildfires burned mobile homes, closed highways and forced evacuations from a popular wilderness park Saturday as firefighters worked through scorching heat to contain blazes throughout the West. No injuries were reported.
Lightning sparked about a dozen fires that had charred about 55 square miles in remote northern Nevada, where temperatures in Elko were expected to reach 98 degrees on Saturday.
The two biggest fires broke out Friday in Elko County. One had burned 36 square miles, or 23,000 acres, along the Idaho border, said Mike Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. It was 10 percent contained Saturday, officials said.
The other fire had blackened 11 square miles, or 7,000 acres, about five miles southwest of Carlin. It burned two mobile homes and several smaller structures, and shut down a section of Interstate 80.
“Both fires burned actively last night and showed extreme fire behavior,” said Sam Hicks, fire management officer for the Nevada Division of Forestry.
The interstate was closed for six hours overnight as the blaze neared the highway, fire information officer Tracie Winfrey said. On Saturday morning, the fire was 40 percent contained.
In California, three wildfires ignited by lightning spread quickly Saturday morning through a wilderness park, officials said.
More than 400 firefighters were battling the blaze, which has consumed 17,000 acres of the 2 million-acre Inyo National Forest, forest spokeswoman Nancy Upham said Saturday. Firefighters were searching for and evacuating an unknown number of day hikers and overnight backpackers.
A section of Highway 395, which runs along the eastern spine of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, was closed, and many smaller roads leading from the highway into the mountains were also closed. Campgrounds and a lodge had been evacuated, Upham said.
In Southern California, a wildfire burned into a wilderness area of Los Padres National Forest, threatening some campgrounds and showing no sign of slowing down as it moved through tinder-dry chaparral in Santa Barbara County. The fire was heading east and threatened some campgrounds and the historic Manzana schoolhouse, a century-old wooden building, fire spokesman Andy Yamamoto said.
The fire was burning in a steep, remote area in brush and oak woodlands that had not seen flames for about 40 years, Yamamoto said.
The fires in the West have been fueled by an oppressive heat wave that has been felt throughout the region for days, but that has now eased a bit in places. Still, forecasters predicted little relief in the days ahead for a region where many cities have baked in triple-digit temperatures.
Dozens of firefighters battled a blaze near Rulison, Colo., that had destroyed a house and two other buildings. No size estimate was available, but an official said the blaze appeared to have moved at least two miles.
Las Vegas had been cooling since Wednesday, when it tied a record with a high of 116. Slightly overcast and a mere 107 degrees at noon Saturday, the city felt cool to some desert dwellers.
“This is fine to us,” said Patti Johns, 52, a tourist visiting with her husband from Phoenix. “I’ll take this over winter anytime.”
But in Idaho, residents of the Wood River Valley and possibly Boise were warned they could see electrical failures in the middle of the heat wave. A wildfire damaged dozens of power poles on Friday and caused one to fall on a substation and destroy a transformer, said Jeff Beaman, a spokesman for Idaho Power.
The damage could cause rotating outages and residents were asked to reduce their power usage so the utility could meet demand, Beaman said.
In Montana, it was even too hot to fish.
Yellowstone National Park and state fisheries managers asked anglers starting Saturday not to fish on some Montana rivers between noon and 6 p.m. due to drought and scorching weather. Water temperatures in some lower-elevation rivers have reached 73 degrees in recent days, conditions that can stress and even kill fish, the National Park Service said Friday.
Park officials hoped the voluntary restrictions would prevent mandatory closures later in the season.
Associated Press writers Rachel Konrad in San Francisco and Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.
Thanks for the updates Norm, I live close to the two fires burning in Inyo Nat’l Forest. Fires started up high in the mountains and have burned all the way down to Hwy 395 near Independence. It is really bad, smoke everywhere and ash falling on my house. Unconfirmed reports that some homes have been lost on the Fort Independence Indian Reservation and that residents of the small town of Independence are being evacuated.
Good luck down there and Thanks for the info. Stay safe.
Latest info from Inyo Nat’l Forest can be found here: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/767/
Two big separate fires; one near Independence, the other near Big Pine. Both caused by lightening yesterday afternoon. The west part of the town of Independence (pop. about 1,200) is being evacuated and the north west section of the town of Big Pine (pop. about 1,300) is also being evacuated.
The fire started in Kings Canyon Nat’l Park and then burned downed the mountainside (Onion Valley area) all the way to the Fort Independence Indian Reservation where it crossed Hwy 395 (Sherwood Forest area). The Hwy may be closed for several days (main Hwy between Los Angeles & Reno).
About 25 vehicles belonging to hikers spotted at Onion Valley trailhead. Search planes are looking for hikers in the back country along the John Muir Trail.
Smoke is very heavy, cannot even see the 14,000’ White Mtns. only seven miles to the east. The view is clearer (so to speak) to the west; can see the 14,000’ High Sierra about six miles to the west. Just a wall of smoke looking due south toward Big Pine (I’m near the Inyo-Mono County line).
I’ve been following the fire on the CHP incident site.
Our family has camped in various sites in this area. My favorite was the campground in Big Pine. The best shower I ever had. First went in the 80s. Now we venture up near Tom’s Place. I so love it up there.
Wow, the Whites, A clear view from my friends house last summer.