SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST – Cooler weather and lower temperatures are expected to help fire crews on the French Fire today. Some 12,827 acres have been charred by the fire which is now 20% contained.
The burnout operation was completed on the southern end of the fire last night to secure containment lines down to the San Joaquin River. Direct fire line was also completed from Chiquito Creek to the 4S81 road on the northern perimeter.
Fire crews are hoping to take advantage of cooler weather and higher humidity to construct direct fire line were possible. Crews also continue their structure defense in the Arnold Meadow area on the northern perimeter.
The north and northeastern parts of the fire continue to be areas with growth, now extending to the western shore of Mammoth Pool, just north of the boat ramp.
Yesterday, an early lifting of the inversion allowed helicopters to lift off from the North Fork heliport by 1:30 p.m. Helicopters have been dipping water from Bass Lake the past few days. Madera County Sheriff’s Boat Patrol has secured the east end of the lake near Crane Valley Dam to allow clear access for the operations.
A Forest Service Area Road and Trail Closure, Forest Order # 15-14-07, has been issued for the French Fire area. More information can be found at: http://tinyurl.com/o44cvyu
Yesterday, sheriff’s deputies, along with USFS personnel, rounded up cattle and horses in the area of Wagner’s and Arnold Meadow. The cattle were herded to higher ground and two horses were relocated to the Minarets Pack Station.
US Forest Service personnel and one Madera County Resident Deputy were called in to evacuate the Minarets Work Center due to fire conditions. A spike camp had been set up here to reduce travel time for firefighters on the northern zones of the fire. They have moved farther north, roughly two miles above Wagner’s Store on Mammoth Pool Road near the Minarets heliport, which is used by CHP air ambulance and fire helicopters.
An investigation has concluded that an abandoned campfire near the Rock Creek Campground was the cause of the French Fire. The campfire was located near the bottom of Rock Creek Road, just above the San Joaquin River. Investigators are asking for the public’s help for information about anyone who was seen in the area of Rock Creek Road near the San Joaquin River during the afternoon or evening of Sunday, July 27.
The French Fire will continue to produce large amounts of smoke, which has impacted local communities. Smoke is typically greater in the morning and evening hours. Plan outdoor activities for times and places with low smoke levels. Up-slope breezes occur during the day, which will often take smoke into higher elevations. In the evening, these winds change direction and bring smoke down slope to lower elevations. For more information about smoke impacts, please visit the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Districts website at: http://valleyair.org/wildfires.htm
There are currently 1,763 personnel assigned to the incident. No estimated date for containment has been established.