OAKHURST — As evacuated residents return to their homes and Highway 41 reopens to the public, firefighters continue their work to contain the Railroad Fire, still actively burning along the east side near Big Sandy.
The Railroad Fire is now estimated at 12,358 acres and is 70 percent contained. There are currently 1,020 personnel assigned to the incident.
Over the last two days, homes and businesses within the fire area have been repopulated after their evacuation nearly 12 days ago, however fire suppression operations continue and visitors are encouraged to exercise caution when traveling along Highway 41 and through residential areas, and to stay off Forest roads where fire is still actively burning.
“Please travel at a speed safe for the conditions,” says USFS Agency Administrator Mark Van Every. “You never know what’s around a blind curve; there might be rocks, debris, a tree or fire equipment in the middle of the road.”
Travelers can expect to see smoke within the fire area as interior islands and heavy down material smolders. Large firefighting equipment is still present all across the fire area.
Fire crews, dozers and helicopters continue their work to extinguish hot spots, do mop-up, and strengthen firelines.
The active part of the fire still surrounds Big Sandy campground, runs south on the west side of Little Sandy, down between Grouse Meadow and Kramer Meadow, and along the west side of Nelder Grove Campground in the California Creek drainage.
The dozer lines are holding well around Cedar Valley, and that community is expected to be open to residents only later today.
The spot fire to the north of Road 620 (Bissett Station) is approaching total containment, and has not increased in size in several days.
Temperatures are expected to be slightly higher than yesterday, with a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon as monsoonal moisture is expected to be drawn toward the Sierra.
Fire crews have begun suppression repair – repairing or improving land damaged during fire suppression and line construction activity. Resource Advisors from the Forest Service have identified the extent and the areas is which that is needed. Those repairs can vary depending upon the intended use of the affected area after the fire.
Resource Advisors also identify natural and cultural resources which may have been impacted during the fire, and have been actively involved throughout the incident.
As of today, 6 injuries have been reported and 17 structures lost.
For fire updates, residents and visitors can message RAILROADFIRE (one word) to 888777.
The Railroad Fire was reported at 12:20 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29, just south of the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad on the west side of Highway 41.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Update on evacuations and closures:
- The Fish Camp area was open to the public on Thursday.
- Sky Ranch opened to residents only at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, up to Buckskin only.
- Sugar Pine opened to residents only at noon on Saturday.
- Highway 41 opened to everyone at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
- Cedar Valley – officials hope to reopen by the end of the day on Sunday.
Road 620 (Bissett Station) remains under an evacuation advisory due to the spot fire just north toward Miami Motorcycle Trails.
Forest Road Closures:
- Road 632 (Sky Ranch) beyond Buckskin
- Forest Road 6S07 (Jackson Road) to Beasore
- Forest Road 5S10 at 5S39
- Forest Road 6S13 at Road 274
- Forest Road 6S08 at 6S36
- Forest Road 6S10 at 6S39
- Forest Road 6S99 at Beasore Road
- Forest Road 6S40 at Beasore Road
- Forest Road 6S40X at Beasore Road
- Forest Road 5S40Y at Beasore Road
- Worman Road one mile in from Highway 49 (at Road 601).
Free food disposal for evacuees:
To assist residents returning to their homes after being evacuated for the Railroad and Mission Fires, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office along with the Public Works Department are providing disposal sites for food waste only.
Disposal sites are being provided at no cost and can be found at the following locations:
- Residents returning after the Railroad Fire may utilize the dumpster located in front of the office at the Sheriff’s Substation located at 48267 Liberty Drive in Oakhurst.
- Residents returning after the Mission Fire may utilize the North Fork Transfer Site at 33699 Road 274 in North Fork.