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Oak Fire - photo Doug Mendonca

Eastern Flank Presents Greatest Challenge For Crews On The Oak Fire

AHWAHNEE – As crews head out to the lines on the Oak Fire today, their main focus will be on the eastern flank where they are still working to complete the fireline.

The Oak Fire was reported at 3:44 p.m. yesterday afternoon and quickly grew to an estimated 250-300 acres. As of 10 a.m. today, the fire is estimated at 350 to 375 acres. It is 20 percent contained, though there is line around about 75 percent of the fire and that line is plumbed (hose lays are in).

UPDATE 1:30 p.m. – The estimated acreage is now 390 acres with 30 percent containment.

Oak Fire Sept 22 2018 – photo Gracie Spear from Deadwood area appx 5 pm

Once the fire became established in the creek drainage yesterday afternoon, it ran upslope on both sides through the heavy fuels.

As it reached the burn scar from the 2017 Railroad Fire on the northeast, activity slowed just a bit as it moved into a different fuel type, however there is still fuel, including pine needles from all the dead trees, bear clover, and this season’s grasses.

The completed line runs north from the point of origin on Lonesome Oak Road, crosses Forest Road 6S24, makes a horseshoe near Miami Mountain Road before heading back south where it crosses Forest Road 6S17 and back down to Lonesome Oak Road.

The challenge today for firefighters will be the eastern section of line from 6S17 south, and planners say air resources will be focused on securing that line. Dozers are working along 6S17 to create a contingency line in case that southeast flank makes a run to the east.

There were several spot fires outside the lines yesterday and overnight, but all those spots have line and hose lays around them.

Conditions are extremely dry across the fire, and it burned actively until about 3:30 a.m. this morning as humidities remained low. The RAWS station at Batterson registered just 25 percent humidity this morning at 6 a.m., as opposed to a more normal recovery of 35 to 40 percent. Those levels are expected to drop to about 12 to 20 percent throughout the day.

Hazard trees present the greatest danger to crews on the line, and fallers will be working today to remove them from roadways and along firelines. Nearly a dozen downed trees blocked access for crews and deputies along Road 6S24 yesterday and had to be cut out of the road.

Temperatures are expected to push up into the high 80s and lower 90s over the next several days.

The Incident Command Post is currently located at Station 12 in Oakhurst behind True Value.

Some 25 homes have been evacuated and 100 more are under a fire advisory. The evacuations have not changed since yesterday, and there is no estimated time to lift those orders. No structures have been damaged or destroyed.

The fire is burning in Madera and Mariposa Counties and on Sierra National Forest land. Cal Fire expects to enter into unified command with the Forest Service by tomorrow morning.

Current Madera County Road Closures and Evacuations for Oak Fire:

Road Closures:
– Road 620 @ Miami Creek
– Road 620 just west of Lonesome Oak Lane
– Miami Motorcycle Trails

Evacuation Orders:
– Lonesome Oak Lane
– Buckeye Gap Trail
– Miami Motorcycle Trails
– Northside of Road 620 between Lonesome Oak Lane and Badger Hollow Trail
– Cedarbrook on 5S12 Forest Service Road
– Timber Loft community on 6S09 and 6S14B

Pre-Evacuation Advisories:
– Road 620 (Northside) between Road 628 to Mojo Lane
– Road 620 (Northside) between Buckeye Gap Trail and Old Yosemite Road
– Old Yosemite Road
– Sunshine Mountain Road

A Red Cross Evacuation Center had been established at the Oakhurst Community Center located at 39800 Road 425B. However, with no one in need of their services, they have gone on standby. Please call 559-515-3974 if you require assistance. The Center will be reopened if needed.

Large animals that have been evacuated are being housed at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds.

USFS Law Enforcement, CHP and California Fish and Wildlife are assisting with evacuations and road closures.

The Sheriff’s Office warns residents not to wait for an evacuation order to leave if they feel threatened. Call 911 if you need assistance.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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