OAKHURST – Firefighters have stopped the progress of the Junction Fire at 612 acres, and reached 40% containment. Crews will be working today to strengthen lines and attack hot spots throughout the burn area.
At the morning briefing today, there was discussion of expected thunderstorms and rain over the crest of the Sierra, but neither is expected to impact the Junction Fire.
Firefighters have been assisted by cooler temperatures, and that is expected to continue, along with higher humidities.
Though fire officials don’t anticipate that the fire will grow in size over today’s shift, they note that a change in the winds could increase fire activity at any time.
Today, crews will be mopping up 200 feet into the perimeter all around the firelines, and patrolling for spot fires outside the burn area. They will also be working hotspots and mopping up around structures.
Though the containment is listed at 40%, that does not mean that only 40% of the fire has line around it; rather that is the line that is deemed to be secure at this time. “Those lines have not been completed to our standards,” says Cal Fire.
The Operations Chief told the troops this morning that even though active fire behavior and smoke has died down, “There is still a ton of work to do.”
Restoration and repair work has already begun, along with the continued suppression efforts.
PG&E has been out in force, restoring power to all areas affected by the fire, and continuing to do repair work.
It was reported that most of the tanks at Suburban Propane are now empty, and the property has been gone through with monitoring equipment to detect any propane leakage.
Four medic modules are stationed around the fire area, and ground ambulances and helicopters are available for any injuries. Only two have been reported so far.
Units stationed at the Sears staging area in Oakhurst are ordered to maintain a 3-minute readiness status to respond to any new incidents.
Helicopters 404 and 517 are staged at Batterson Work Station. No fixed wing aircraft are assigned to the fire at this time, but will be called up if needed.
Cal Fire will be coordinating with Madera County to assess the fire damage over the next couple days. Nine structures have been reported lost, but it is yet to be determined if they were homes or other types of buildings. The only businesses lost were Suburban Propane’s office building and The Old Barn.
The Red Cross Shelter at the YLP Community Church had about 14 people overnight, but with roads reopened and evacuations lifted, they will have accomplished their mission. The shelter will cloce at 3 p.m. today.
Red Cross organizer Dennis Fitzgerald says the community support has been outstanding, with people stopping by to donate cases of water and food. Vons provided 80 sandwiches and fried chicken on the first night, and some people have brought cookies, and even kid’s toys, which they are not equipped to accept but were grateful for the offer.
Area schools that had been closed will reopen on Thursday, after kids got a vacation after just one day of classes.
The Base Camp at the Bohna Arena in Coarsegold is going strong, supporting all the crews on the line. At this morning’s briefing, everyone was reminded that no one is talking about ramping down, demobilizing or getting out of town.
“Our number one priority is to keep everyone safe,” said Incident Commander Brian Estes. “Number two is to get the citizens of Madera County back into their homes and open up businesses. We need a good solid shift from everyone. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
There was an accident at the top of Deadwood on Highway 41 this morning when a PG&E truck and a Hyundai Sonata collided at Road 425B. A Sonora Fire crew coming in off the lines stopped to render aid and call for emergency responders.
There are 130 engines and 16 fire crews working in and around the town of Oakhurst, which adds up to 1,094 personnel. There are also trucks from contractors and other agencies responding to the needs of citizens across the area. Everyone is reminded to please slow down, be aware of their presence, keep lanes open for them to access and watch for them out working in the area. They kept everyone safe, so please return the favor.
(photo – the “locals” at the Bohna Arena sharing space with all the new arrivals)
(map – black lines are “contained” firelines)