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Growth Of Rough Fire Slowed, Smoke Still An Issue

SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST – The Rough Fire has grown to 85,894 acres with 31 percent containment and remains the largest active fire in California.

Heavy concentrations of smoke are expected near the fire today. Smoke will be slow to lift, and light and variable transport winds are expected primarily from the south, with increased impacts expected in San Joaquin Valley foothills northwest of the fire.

Residual smoke that has not cleared the area, will add to impacts from new smoke being produced. Unhealthy to Hazardous conditions are expected in communities near the fire. Similar conditions are expected for tomorrow.

A ridge over the Pacific will persist and build north and east as it strengthens. Temperatures will slowly rise though the weekend and relative humidity values will trend to drier.

The fire reached the Lewis Creek Drainage yesterday and pushed northeast as expected. Crews providing structure protection around Cedar Grove began a burn operation around the Water Treatment facility and CCC camp to direct the fire around the structures. Additional crews will be assigned today to bolster the structure protection group should the fire progress east.

Firing operations in the Kennedy Grove, Evans Grove and Big Meadows areas have been completed. The line from Buck Rock east to Big Meadows Road and north into the Sheep Burn will continue to be reinforced, providing depth. Crews made it to interior roads in these areas to conduct burn operations for reinforcement yesterday.

Firefighters doing mopup on Rough Fire - photo SNFThe section around Hume Lake continues to hold strong. Crews assigned to this division are in a patrol and mop up status. This is to ensure that any remaining hot spots within the burn area do not make their way beyond the containment line.

Burn operations continued in Converse Basin. Aerial firing occurred during the afternoon hours yesterday along the line on Hoist Ridge. This operation is to straighten the fire’s edge which will provide better control as the fire advances toward the indirect containment line.

Firefighters continue to work on suppression repair north of the fire where contingency lines were needed from Black Rock Road north and above Teakettle Experimental Forest. Patrol and mop up continues along Kirch Flat toward Wishon. Crews in the John Muir Wilderness continue to monitor the area where burnout operations were completed.

As work nears completion in the John Muir Wilderness, the Mammoth Wildland Fire Module hiked out today after completing their assignment. The pack string will assist them as they haul out their gear.

At 6 a.m. yesterday morning, the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team (RMIMT1), Incident Commander Todd Pechota, assumed command of the South Zone.

As fire containment proves successful along the northern and western flanks of the North Zone (Kirch Flat to Wishon), the focus is now shifting to fire suppression repair of the dozer and hand lines that were built to check the fire’s forward progress. Resource Advisors (READs) are playing a critical role in identifying the immediate and future needs for repair of fire suppression impacts.

Mule pack strings on Rough Fire - photo SNFThe pack string leaders, Debbie McDougald and John Sprik, have successfully completed three round trips to resupply the crews with four more trips planned. Each trip is seven miles one way. Supplies such as food, water and tools are off loaded to the module personnel, and refuse is hauled out. This helps reduce cost and risk by not using helicopter flights and sling loads, leaving as minimal a footprint on the wilderness as possible.

An important part of any fire camp are the young adults of the CCC. The California Conservation Corps is a work development program specifically for men and women between the ages of 18-25, or 29 for veterans. The CCC falls under the California Resource Agency, and members are able to work in the areas of environmental conservation, fire protection, land protection and emergency response to natural disasters.

The CCC came into being on July 7, 1976 when Governor CCC workers on Rough Fire - photo SNFJerry Brown signed the bill that created the agency. The agency was modeled after the Corps that existed during the New Deal in the 1930’s. The new Corps replaced the existing California Ecology Corps that was created by Ronald Reagan.

Fire protection is a big part of the CCC program, and the Rough Fire has been no exception to that. The Rough Fire has seen numerous CCC crews helping at all of the camps on the fire. These young men and women work with facilities, provide lunches and water to the fire crews, pick up trash, and recycle paper and plastic. Learning to work in a team environment in different situations helps to lay the foundation for future successes for these young people.

CCC members not only earn minimum wage while working in the program. They can earn up to $2,000 per year in scholarships, with a lifetime maximum of $4,000. These scholarships help members to further their education and training. To earn these scholarships, the member has to volunteer 48 hours of community service and complete a career development class and a conservation awareness class.

CCC worker on Rough Fire - photo SNFOmar Gonzales has been with the program for a little over two years. In speaking with him, you can see immediately that he has been grateful for the experience.

“I’ve gotten to go to remote places, travel, work outside, and meet new people. I’ve done vegetation removal, and worked with Cal-Trans on freeways.” Omar is excited about the scholarship opportunities, and plans on becoming a peace officer in the near future.

Closures and Advisories –

All campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park are now closed until further notice. The Kings Canyon Visitor Center will be open with modified hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The General Grant Tree, Panoramic Point, park trails, John Muir Lodge, Grant Grove Cabins, restaurant, market, and gift shop are open. Ranger programs and hikes have been cancelled due to poor air quality however they may occur if the air quality improves.

Recreation opportunities on the Hume Lake Ranger District have been impacted by the fire. Stony Creek Village Resort will be open for day use through the Labor Day weekend. Montecito Lake Resort is closed.

  • Sierra National Forest closure order for the Rough Fire area remains in effect.
  • The Hume Lake Ranger District, Jennie Lakes Wilderness and Monarch Wilderness, including Forest Road 12S01, 12S01E, and 12S19 in the Sequoia Highlands area of the Sequoia National Forest remain closed.
  • McKinley Grove Rd. (11S40) is closed at Wishon Dam, including the 11S07.
  • 10S24 is closed from the intersection of 11S91 to where it meets 11S40 at Buck Meadow.
  • 11S12 Rd. (Salt Flat Rd.) is closed at McKinley Grove Rd.
  • Trimmer Springs Road at Kirch Flat is closed.

There are a lot of holiday travelers visiting Grant Grove and the Sequoia National Park this holiday weekend. Driving in an unfamiliar location can be a difficult task to begin with. With the addition of smoke, emergency equipment, and extra visitors, safe driving becomes even more important. Please drive with your headlights on, put cell phones in a location where they will not distract you, and drive slower than normal.

The Rough Fire, which was started by lightning on July 31, is burning in the Kings River Drainage, 5 miles North of Hume Lake and 2.5 miles southwest of Spanish Mountain.

There are 1,967 personnel currently assigned to the Rough Fire, including 41 crews, 117 engines, 12 helicopters, 2 horses and 10 mules, plus overhead personnel.

The fire is being managed on the Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, by the Rocky Mountain Type 1 Incident Management Team (RMIMT1) and the Sierra National Forest Type 3 Incident Management Team. The Rocky Mountain IMT has a Facebook page dedicated to “Thank You” notes to the firefighters working on the fireline. Visit the page at https://www.facebook.com/RockyMtn.Type1.IMT.PIOs

Source: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/article/4456/29232/

Rough fire perimeter map 9-5-15

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