EASTERN MADERA COUNTY – The Aspen Fire, which was discovered on Tuesday, July 23, has now reached 4,500 acres with 0% containment.
The fire is burning on the Sierra National Forest High Sierra Ranger District on the east side of the San Joaquin River near Mammoth Pool Reservoir in steep, rugged, inaccessible terrain, which has hampered suppression efforts for both ground crews and air attack.
The dense smoke has stifled efforts by helicopters and tankers attacking from the air, though the Forest Service said this morning that the inversion layer is lifting, causing the smoke to clear and they intend to begin retardant and water drops as soon as possible.
A Forest Service spokesperson says there is no imminent threat to the communities of Big Creek or Huntington Lake. Three structures have been threatened, but none has been lost, and no injuries have been reported.
Additional resources continue to arrive at staging areas, including three campgrounds near Huntington Lake where campers have been asked to leave in order to make room for firefighters and equipment.
Winds are expected to increase a bit today, which will help to dissipate the smoke and allow for air attack, but could also cause an increase in fire activity.
(map shows growth of the fire since yesterday. Mammoth Pool is on the left)
There are 858 personnel assigned to the fire at this time. Cooperating agencies on the Aspen Fire include the US Forest Service, the California Highway Patrol, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. There are also personnel from Cal Fire and the Park Service.
The fire has not jumped to the Madera County side of the river, though evacuations were implemented yesterday in anticipation of that possibility.
Campground closures within the Sierra National Forest are as follows:
-Jackass Rock Organization
-Wagners Mammoth Pool Resort
Road guards have been stationed in the area above Bass Lake and North Fork to control traffic, and Sheriff’s personnel will be letting people out, but not in, except with identification to retrieve belongings from homes or cabins.
-Stump Springs Road
Roads Open to Residents with Identification:
-Minarets/Mammoth Pool Road (Forest Service Road 81) from Fish Creek Campground to Jackass Rock Organization Campground
-Grizzly Road (Forest Service Road 6S01) from Minarets Road (Forest Service Road 81) to Beasore Road
Smoke from the Aspen Fire is impacting air quality in local communities. Individuals sensitive to smoke are suggested to remain indoors and keep windows closed, to minimize exposure to smoke.
Containment of the fire is anticipated on July 31.