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Morning briefing at Railroad Fire Camp - photo by Gina Clugston

Big Increase In Containment On The Railroad Fire

OAKHURST — There was no infrared flight information for the Railroad Fire overnight, so it is still being reported at 11,603 acres with 43 percent containment.

However, a look at the briefing map from this morning (at the bottom of the page) shows a lot more black (containment) line than on yesterday’s map, after 24 hours of good progress on the fireline. We will watch for updated numbers later today, as the Public Information Office says the containment estimate is indeed higher.

The east flank, a short section on the west, and the spot fire (Division Z) still show on the map as uncontrolled fire line, along with a short section on the ridge to the east of Cedar Valley. That line on the ridge continues to send smoke down the Lewis Creek drainage, causing visibility issues in the morning hours.

There are currently 962 personnel assigned to the incident including 95 engines, 16 hand crews, 14 dozers and 8 helicopters, with more resources having arrived overnight.

There will be two Type 1 and six Type 2 helicopters over the fire today.

The number of structures lost has been updated to 17. Six injuries have been reported.

Crews made good progress on the spot fire north of Road 620 (Bissett Station) overnight. The day shift will continue to strengthen lines and start mop-up where possible. The issue of hazard trees is an ongoing concern for firefighter safety.

The line along the west flank, up into Fish Camp and across the northern perimeter is quiet, holding well with no issues reported.

On the northeast corner, crews continue to secure and improve lines, and completed firing operations about 9:30 last night.

The east flank out toward Grouse Meadow made a push yesterday around 4 p.m., and a Hot Shot crew and a couple engines moved in and got to work. More resources will be committed to this part of the fire as things cool down over on the west and north.

Up near Calvin Crest, everything looked good overnight. The fire is holding in the California Creek drainage. About 10:30 last night, the temperature dropped to about 49 degrees and humidity came up, causing the fire to settle down and crews had a fairly quiet night.

Structure protection continues in the Cedar Valley area and along Sky Ranch Road.

The fire continues to back its way through Nelder Grove, and it will be interesting to see the results of fire activity that could not have been scripted any better for the health of the grove and the survival of the ancient trees.

Weather today will be dryer, no threat of any thunderstorms, sunny skies. cooler air, down a few degrees from yesterday, with temperatures expected in the 70s on the line and in the 80s in fire camp. Wind will be calm into the afternoon, when ridge winds will pick up slightly with some gusts up to 15 mph.

There will be a public meeting on the Railroad Fire on Thursday, Sept. 7, at the Mountain Christian Center (40299 Highway 49) in Oakhurst at 7 p.m. Fire officials will be on hand to answer any questions.

Once again, there are no indications as to when Highway 41 will be reopened, but we will be watching closely for any word from the Team and the Sheriff’s Office and post immediately when that happens.

Looking forward, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office would like to expedite the process for residents to gain access to their residences when the danger from the Railroad Fire has passed and re-population occurs.

In light of this effort, MCSO will open the Oakhurst Substation for residents to come present documentation as proof they live in the evacuated area. Proof of residency could include Driver’s License, Vehicle Registration, or Utility Bill.

The Sheriff’s Office will provide residents with a pass for entry. This will expedite access when re-population occurs, as well as assist with the flow of in/out traffic during the first 24 hours of re-population.

Please note that this is not an order for re-population. Information on re-population will be released as soon as it becomes available. This action serves to simplify the process and maintain order when people are allowed to return home safely.

The hours of the Oakhurst Substation, located at 48267 Liberty Drive, are listed below.

  • Thursday, Sept. 7, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 7 at the Railroad Community Meeting from 6 – 9 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 8, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Closures and evacuations on the Railroad Fire (in addition to Sky Ranch):

The mandatory evacuation for the the community of Fish Camp and the Tenaya Lodge has been lifted for residents only. Highway 41 and the area is still closed to the public. Residents must enter from inside Yosemite National Park and show identification.

A mandatory evacuation order is in place for the entire Cedar Valley subdivision.

Highway 41 remains closed in both directions from Cedar Valley on the south (about three miles north of Oakhurst), to Yosemite National Park. Yosemite visitors should use Highway 49 to Highway 140 or 120 for entrance to the National Park.

Still under a mandatory evacuation are the Narrow Gauge Inn, the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, the community of Sugar Pine including the Christian Camp, Cedar Valley, Sky Ranch, Big Sandy and Summerdale campgrounds, Nelder Grove, Camp Redwood, Paradise Springs, Calvin Crest, ECCO Conference Center, and Soquel and Texas Flat campgrounds.

Road 620 (Bissett Station) has been given an evacuation advisory due to the spot fire just north toward Miami Motorcycle Trails.

Forest Road Closures:

  • Road 632 (Sky Ranch)
  • 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).

The Red Cross Evacuation Center at the Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church in Oakhurst has been closed down, and combined with the one at the Oakhurst Community Center at 39800 Road 425B. The Red Cross remains on standby for the church and is ready to reopen in short order should the need arise. About 40 people are currently housed at the shelter.

The Central California Animal Disaster Team (CCADT) has activated a small animal shelter at the Oakhurst Community Center Pavilion Building, and are currently house 47 pets. Large animals can be sheltered at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds, at 44777 Rodeo Grounds Lane in Coarsegold. The phone number is 559-676-7864.

For animal evacuations, please call the Sheriff’s Office Dispatch at (559) 675-7770 to request help. CCADT will be working with Madera County Animal Control to help with evacs if needed

The hot line number for the Red Cross is 559-343-2549.

All roads past Wawona inside Yosemite are open, including Glacier Point Road, which had been closed since Aug. 27 due to increased fire activity on the Empire Fire. Expect smoky conditions.

For fire updates, residents and visitors can message RAILROADFIRE (one word) to 888777.

A fire information line has been established for the Railroad Fire at 559-373-0040.

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. It is burning on the Bass Lake Ranger District of the Sierra National Forest.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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