FISH CAMP — The Railroad Fire has forced the closure of Highway 41, the evacuation of hundreds of residents and visitors, and continues to grow.
The fire is now estimated at over 1,000 acres, with spot fires out ahead of the blaze, and a potential for up to 5,000 acres, with zero percent containment. It is moving toward the park boundary.
There are currently 200 personnel assigned to the incident including 26 engines, 7 hand crews, 6 dozers, 3 helicopters and 10 air tankers, with more resources arriving and even more on order.
Three structures have been lost. About a quarter mile north of the Narrow Gauge Inn, the fire crossed the road and it appears that it destroyed several structures in the area on the east side of the road. About 100 are threatened.
The fire started across the road from the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad and burned to the north and west.
The Railroad itself is being used as the Incident Command Post at this time, where firefighters and other resources are staging.
Closures include Highway 41 and all offshoots between Cedar Valley Road and Summerdale Campground in both Madera County and Mariposa County, Road 630 (Sugar Pine Road) and all cross streets, including Sugar Pine Christian Camps.
The road closure on Highway 41 has been moved south from Road 630 to Cedar Valley. On the north it is closed at Wawona inside Yosemite National Park.
A mandatory evacuation is in place for the the community of Fish Camp, the Tenaya Lodge, the Narrow Gauge Inn, the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad, the community of Sugar Pine including the Christian camp, and all homes in the immediate vicinity. Evacuations run north to the Summerdale Campground.
All traffic is being sent into Yosemite from Fish Camp, and the outbound traffic from the park is being stopped at the south entrance.
Officials report zero visibility on the roadway in the Fish Camp area, so everyone is being warned to use extreme caution and headlights.
The community of Wawona – which is still dealing with a recent evacuation from the South Fork Fire – is also being warned of the possible threat potential from this fire. Residents and visitors are encouraged to make appropriate pre-evacuation preparations, just in case.
The fire is burning in mixed conifer forest and bear clover and it has moved rapidly throughout the afternoon. As we move into the nighttime hours, and temperatures drop, the winds generally shift back to downslope, pushing the fire back into the areas already burned, and limiting the intensity.
Heavy smoke has limited access to aircraft, and steep terrain with falling trees is endangering firefighters.
Fire managers continue to request additional resources to the incident, as Paid Call Firefighters are called up to cover Cal Fire stations left unmanned by engines headed to assist on the fire.
A Red Cross evacuation center has been established at the Oakhurst Community Center, 39800 Road 425B. A second shelter is in Yosemite National Park at the Valley Visitors Center at 9035 Village Drive.
The Central California Animal Disaster Team is on standby to assist the Madera County Sheriff’s Office/ Animal Control with animal evacuation and emergency animal sheltering if needed.
For fire updates, residents and visitors can message RAILROADFIRE (one word) to 888777.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.