SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST – After nearly two months of long, exhausting days working in intense heat, dense smoke and dangerous conditions, firefighters are getting the upper hand on the Rough Fire.
The fire is now 143,559 acres with 73 percent containment. There are currently 1,510 personnel assigned to the incident, including 27 crews, 77 engines, 12 helicopters, 11 bulldozers and 30 water tenders. Four structures have been destroyed and nine firefighters injured during suppression efforts.
The cumulative effects of five days of hot and dry conditions continue to bolster active fire behavior, but it is within the established containment lines.
Low intensity fire continues to spread through forest surface litter, and there has been single tree torching and isolated intense heat associated with the heavy accumulation of logs and stumps throughout the burn area. Smoke production levels have diminished with the completion of the large burnout operations.
A heightened concern during mop-up and the suppression repair phase are hazards to firefighters such as rollout of heavy material and snags. The ongoing effects of firefighter fatigue continue to be monitored due to the effects of an active and very length fire season, increased heat, and exposure to smoke.
Hazard trees within the Highway 180 corridor and near the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park entrance are continually being assessed.
Hot and dry weather persists in the forecast, coupled with low humidity. These conditions will allow unburned fuels on interior islands to gain more complete consumption.
Warm and stable high pressure will maintain a hold on the area into midweek. No chance of rain is forecast through Sunday. Morning lows today were mainly in the mid to upper 60s except 50s higher elevations. Highs were 85 to 95 degrees in valleys and on lower slopes with humidity 20 to 28 percent.
Temperatures will remain warm to hot on Wednesday in the mid to upper 80s as limited moisture spreads east into the area. Slope and valley winds with a daytime west component around 5 to 10 mph with gusts to 15 mph will reverse overnight becoming east to northeast 5 to 10 mph after midnight with a moderate inversion.
Fire officials advise drivers to be cautious of changing conditions with fire vehicles and equipment that continue working in the area.
The North Zone has transitioned into full suppression repair operations, due to the diminishing fire activity and increased containment. The Trimmer Spike Camp was in the process of downsizing today, with the majority of fire personnel relocating to Dinky Creek Incident Command Post. One hotshot crew and two engines will continue to have a presence at the Trimmer Work Center.
Crews will continue patrols along the fire perimeter. As fire crews shift from suppression to road and trail repair of the dozer and handlines, active hot spots will remain in some areas. The hazards being mitigated by crews in the next few days include falling limbs, snags (dead standing trees), fire damaged trees, weakened standing green trees, rolling rocks and logs, poor visibility due to smoke conditions and hot ash.
Fire fighters remain diligent in the White Deer Saddle and Little Boulder Rd (14S02) areas monitoring yesterday’s burnout operations. These operations have ensured the security of previously installed fire lines. Crews worked their last night shift as the scaling down of resources continues.
Firelines are reported to be secure and holding with the cool night air. A helicopter outfitted with an infrared camera was also utilized last night. Throughout fire suppression efforts this tool is used to determine the perimeter of the fire, as well as identify areas of heat on the interior of containment lines.
Today crews will patrolled and monitored active interior fires, while other crews worked toward suppression repair of fire lines.
Grant Grove Village and the General Grant Tree main parking area in Kings Canyon National Park were scheduled to reopen to visitors at 9 a.m. today, Sept. 22. Access to the Grant Grove Visitor Center, Village Market, restaurant, John Muir Lodge and the Grant Tree main parking area is now available. Access to the Grant Tree Trail, however, will be limited to a short distance left and right of the trail entry “Y.” Visitors will be able to see the Grant Tree from this access.
Highway 180 is closed above the Grant Tree main parking area.
Visitors should be aware that firefighters continue to work on the fireline in the vicinity of Grant Grove.
Visit www.nps.gov/seki for the latest recreation information.
AREA CLOSURES: Area closures for public and firefighter safety remain in place on the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests, Giant Sequoia National Monument, Sequoia National Park, and Kings Canyon National Park. A phased reopening of certain areas of the National Monument and National Parks continues today.
For more information, visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4456/