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Crews Turn The Corner On Railroad Fire, Evacuations Lifted Next Few Days

OAKHURST — At a community meeting tonight in Oakhurst, residents, travelers on Highway 41 and those who are employed north of town heard very good news.

Fire officials have announced the schedule for the lifting of evacuations on the Railroad Fire.

  • The Fish Camp area will be open to the public tomorrow, though people will have to access from the north as Highway 41 will still be closed until Saturday.
  • Sky Ranch will be open to residents only at 5 p.m. on Friday up to Buckskin only.
  • Sugar Pine will be open to residents only at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Highway 41 will be open to everyone at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
  • Cedar Valley – officials hope to reopen by the end of the weekend.

The fire is now estimated at 12,099 acres with 50 percent containment.

There are currently 1,045 personnel assigned to the incident including 95 engines, 19 hand crews and 15 dozers.

The number of structures lost has been updated to 17. That includes 5 homes, 5 historic structures, and 7 miscellaneous buildings.

Six injuries to firefighters have been reported.

We have been told that this morning’s perimeter map showing the line from Sugar Pine down through Lewis Creek as contained, was incorrect. The mistake was remedied with this afternoon’s map (see below).

Though that area is not yet ready to be put in the “all good” column, there were no issues reported along that line today, and crews have made excellent progress holding the fire on the east side of Lewis Creek.

The spot fire north of Road 620 didn’t grow in size today, and crews worked on mop-up and strengthening the perimeter.

Some heat was found inside the lines on the west flank about halfway up to Fish Camp today, but nothing that caused fire managers any concern. The forward progress of the spot fire has been stopped, and firefighters are working all around the entire perimeter.

Things are still quiet along the northern lines across from Fish Camp to the Tenaya and along Jackson Road.

Crews completed tying in the dozer lines around the northeast corner near Buffin Meadow and Long Meadow, and south toward Big Sandy. The fire continues to spread east toward Little Sandy and down from Speckerman Mountain.

In Cedar Valley, it is reported to be cooling off nicely. Late this afternoon, crews were working on the line just off Manzanita, and had a nice even line of fire all the way across into the area that’s already burned. The fire continues to back down the hill toward the homes, but is exhibiting what is considered “very good fire behavior.”

Crews found an old fire break in the Manzanita area today, and did some improvements to that line. The fire is being allowed to back down to the line so as to avoid heavy dozer activity that might create problems for residents when the rains come.

Up at Calvin Crest, firefighters cleaned up the dozer line. As the fire moved out of Nelder Grove, it went through a dozer line put in a few days ago, so a new line was cut right at the fire’s edge to stop it there. There will be a lot more resources in the section of the fire now that higher priorities have been dealt with.

On the east flank where the fire made a run yesterday, the fire slopped over the road. The new big picture is to take it out from Little Sandy to Big Sandy.

Not a lot of big concerns today, but crews are being reassigned to new areas of the fire as more resources arrive at camp, and parts of the line cool down.

Tonight, crews will continue burn operations on the east flank of the fire while structure protection groups make sure homes are safe.

On the weather front, there is drier air moving in, with cooler temperatures tonight mainly in the 50s. There is no chance of thunderstorms in the forecast.

Last night, there was another firefighter injury of burns to the hand. This is the second of this type of injury, and the sixth injury on this fire.

Preparing for repopulation:

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 repopulation 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.

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, from 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 7 at the Railroad Community Meeting from 6 – 9 p.m.
  • Friday, Sept. 8, from 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 – Please see updates at the beginning of the article.

The public closure in the the community of Fish Camp and the Tenaya Lodge will be lifted tomorrow. Highway 41 and the area is still closed to the public. Residents must enter from inside Yosemite National Park and show identification until the road opens on Saturday.

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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