SIERRA NATIONAL FOREST – As firefighters gain significant ground on the Rough Fire, demobilization continues and crews are being released to return to their home units or for reassignment to other incidents across the state.
The state’s largest wildfire is holding at 143,599 acres, and is now 79 percent contained. There are currently 935 personnel assigned to the incident, including 12 crews, 35 engines, 8 helicopters, 9 bulldozers and 28 water tenders.
As of Friday, Sept. 25, there have been 10 injuries to firefighters and 4 structures destroyed.
Today marks the 57th day since lightning ignited the Rough Fire. The area continues to experience unseasonably high temperatures and low humidity. Fire continues to burn on interior islands and the northeast edge of the fire.
Motorists are urged to use caution when driving in the area as fire crews continue to work in and around Kings Canyon and Hume Lake.
Rocky Opliger, Incident Commander of the South Zone with California Incident Management Team 4, sent a letter to the community yesterday, thanking them for working together “to provide the infrastructure and support that allowed thousands of firefighters from all over the country to suppress the fire spread. This was an aggressive and dangerous fire. Every day our concern was for firefighter and public safety. Fortunately, the safety record was outstanding.”
Weather conditions allowed crews to complete firing operations in southern portions of the fire near Converse Basin while also mopping up and patrolling that area. Wilderness areas to the east continue to show predicted fire movement as the fire has approached higher elevation rock outcroppings which offers minimal fuels for burning.
Celebration is in the air, say fire officials. Fire crews are celebrating more complete consumption of interior islands, mop-up, patrol assignments and heading home, while the National Park service is celebrating the 125th anniversary of Sequoia National Park and the 75th anniversary of Kings Canyon National Park.
With all of these celebrations, the area will see less fire traffic as California Type I IMT 4 demobilizes and transitions the incident to a smaller Type III organization. This will lead to a reduction in personnel; however the roads will continue to be busy with National Park visitor traffic.
Highway 180 remains closed north of the Grant Tree main parking area.
Visitors should be aware that firefighters continue to work on the fireline in the vicinity of Grant Grove.
Visit www.nps.gov/seki for the latest recreation and park anniversary information.
The overall strategy of the North Zone is fire suppression repair, with an emphasis in the Crown Valley area. Minimal activity is expected as the fire creeps and smolders in the interior of the wilderness.
Auberry Helibase has been a working base for 60 days. It was established when the Willow Fire started, and has continued through to the Rough Fire. As of yesterday, Auberry Helibase has been decommissioned and all resources have been demobilized off the Rough Fire.
Demobilization of excess fire resources has accelerated on the North Zone. This is allowing fire crews to return to their home units and families. Some resources have been on the fireline for extended days or have had multiple deployments to the Rough Fire.
Area closures for public and firefighter safety remain in place on the Sequoia and Sierra National Forests, Giant Sequoia National Monument, Sequoia National Park, and Kings Canyon National Park. A phased reopening of certain areas of the National Monument and National Parks continues.
The latest Rough Fire Information can be found at: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4456/