EASTERN MADERA COUNTY – After nearly a week of smoky days, Bass Lake residents Kelly and L-Jay Fine decided to take a Sunday evening drive, tooling along the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, to safely get a better view of the growing Aspen fire.
“Our journey started before 9 p.m. as it was starting to get dark on that windy road,” says Kelly.
The Aspen fire continues to burn with over 16,000 acres scorched and more than 1,900 personnel assigned to the fire, which is expected to be contained in about ten days.
It started when lightning struck on July 22, and has been tearing through steep terrain, heavy with brush, as campground and road closures remain in effect.
About a half-a-mile before the historic Jesse Ross Cabin, the couple pulled over, “pretty far from the fire, but able to see everything.”
Kelly placed her Canon Rebel camera on a tripod using the night setting. She was fully zoomed in to 300 mm for most of the ensuing photographs, flush with drama and intensity.
“We drove on to see if we could get closer and encountered around eight eerie pairs of eyes in the middle of the road which freaked us out,” Kelly recalls. “They were cows who would not move and I had to drive around them to get by.”
Along the trip, the couple encountered a large rattler on full alert and a baby owl, not unusual sights in the Sierra, but also a reminder that wildlife is on the move ahead of the fire.
The Fines motored past the Ross Cabin and turned around when they reached the road closure.
“We were completely excited about the pictures and being out late at night,” says Kelly, the working mother of a high school student. “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
As crews on the west side of the San Joaquin River continue to keep a sharp eye on the Aspen Fire, making sure it doesn’t jump the canyon, the fire continues to grow and is most active throughout the northern and eastern sides.
Crews are building and prepping indirect line, while helicopters and tankers drop water and retardant.
So far there have been only two reported injuries to humans, including a broken finger and an infected foot. Containment is now 40% with a date for full containment of Aug. 10.
In the meantime, this was a great photo-op!