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Railroad Fire from Bass Camp - clouds to the left, smoke to the right - photo by Gina Clugston

Good Progress On The Railroad Fire, Minimal Growth, Less Smoke

OAKHURST – Residents and firefighters got a bit of a break from the dense smoke today, and there were actually blue skies over the area this afternoon near the Railroad Fire.

The fire grew by only 75 acres since this morning, and is now estimated at 11,603 acres with 43 percent containment.

There are currently 962 personnel assigned to the incident including 89 engines, 14 hand crews and 14 dozers. More resources arrived today.

No more structures have been reported lost; the number still stands at 14.

The wind stayed in firefighters’ favor all day, allowing them to get a lot of hard work done without chasing new problems.

The biggest concern in recent days, other than the protection of the communities and camps in the Cedar Valley/ Sky Ranch area, has been the spot fire burning just north of Road 620 (Bissett Station).  It is now estimated at 673 acres, and continues to challenge firefighters with limited access and dangerous snags.

The spot fire has been assigned its own division as of night shift tonight — Division Zulu. It will be top priority for crews in that section of the fire overnight – to get it corralled. The constant danger of dead trees means firefighters can’t get too far into the burn area, but will continue to strengthen lines and patrol along Miami Creek, while dozers tie everything together up on the 6S24 road.

The line cut in by dozers over the past 48 hours was not direct line (was not right next to the active fire) so firefighters have been allowing it to burn itself out to the dozer line on its own. That has been happening fairly slowly, and there was not a lot of big fire activity reported in the new Division Z today.

Along Lewis Creek, the fire slopped over the trail, but that’s pretty close to the creek, and everything held on the east side, as crews were able to pick up those spots.

The mantra of this fire – and all fires in the central Sierra this year – has been “snags,” and the Lewis Creek area is no different. Night crews will be patrolling the line, which has hose lay in, and steering clear of the danger zones.

The dozer line from Calvin Crest to Cedar Valley is just about tied in, and it is expected that will be finished tonight.

The fire is backing down into California Creek in Nelder Grove at a slow rate of spread. Crews are keeping that in check.

With more resources arriving at camp, fire managers are formulating the plan of attack for the east flank, which, until now, has not had much attention other than dozer lines put in place several days ago. Today at about 4 p.m., that section of the fire livened up a bit and made a run toward Grouse Meadow, passing through the dozer lines in some places. With reinforcements having arrived, the east flank will have boots on the ground.

Crews are making steady progress in the Big Sandy area and north, with no major issues, and the north and west of the fire have been pretty quiet.

Temperatures will drop into the 50s for most of the fire area tonight, with clear skies and about 70 percent humidity recovery. No wind issues are expected.

Just before 2 p.m. today, reports came in of a head injury to a tree faller when he was hit by a falling branch. He was reported to be conscious and alert, and was transported from the Nelder Grove area for medical treatment.

PG&E, Caltrans and other contractors continue their work inside the burn area along Highway 41. There is still no estimated time to reopen the roadway.

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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