NORTH FORK – Lightning may not strike twice, and neither of the fires on Walker Grade this week was lightning-caused, but they did ignite within just a few feet of one another on subsequent days.
On Tuesday, Sept. 18, crews responded to a fire on Road 200’s Walker Grade, in the same area of a small spot fire they had knocked down the day before.
The “Walker Fire,” which was reported at 2:32 p.m., was burning in vegetation on the east side of the roadway up a very steep slope, about three miles southwest of the intersection of Road 200 and Road 221. Some seven acres were consumed before it was contained at 3:15 p.m, according to Cal Fire‘s Fire Prevention Specialist Karen Guillemin.
At one time, 79 people were battling the blaze in 90-plus degree temperatures in the steep terrain. Cal Fire engines, the North Fork Volunteer Fire Department, two inmate crews and water tenders lined the roadway, causing the CHP to implement lane control for more than an hour.
Two helicopters made repeated water drops on the fire, refilling from a pond on the ranch across the road. The U.S. Forest Service crew from North Fork and a bulldozer cut a line around the top of the hill to stop the uphill run of the fire.
One firefighter succumbed to the heat and was transported by ambulance to an area hospital.
“These firefighters really work hard when they first arrive on scene,” said Guillemin. “They want to keep these fires small, and sometimes it can be tough on them.”
Guillemin said crews would stay on the scene for several hours after containment to acheive total control of the fire.
No structures were threatened and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
(click on photos to enlarge)