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Trees burning east side of Hwy 41 on Railroad Fire - photo by Gina Clugston

Spot Fires Increase As Smoke Hampers Air Attack Of Railroad Fire

FISH CAMP — As temperatures rise, fire activity is increasing on the Railroad Fire burning near Fish Camp.

By 8 o’clock this morning, crews were reporting flame lengths of up to 100 ft. in some areas.

Firefighters moved in to cut line around the community of Fish Camp, and helicopters focused their bucket work on that area and the northeast leading edge of the fire.

Railroad Fire burn area starts just before Sugar Pine Railroad – photo by Gina Clugston

Crews also have been doing structure protection, and according to reports from Fish Camp resident Donn Harter this morning, houses on both sides of Summit Road have been saved. However, as Donn said in his message, due to heat and conditions, the situation may change.

Though Operations requested up to six air tankers, getting them will not likely be possible as three are committed to the Pier Fire, a 4,600-acre fire burning southeast of Visalia on the Sequoia National Forest.

The dense smoke continues to limit the hours of attack from air resources, forcing at least one loaded tanker to return to base at about 9:45 a.m., until conditions clear.

At about the same time, Air Attack reported a 40-acre spot fire outside the lines near Road 6S07 east of Fish Camp.

At 10:55 a.m., deputies reported that they will start evacuating the entire length of Jackson Road including campgrounds.

Just after 11 a.m., Air Attack reported conditions on the south end of the fire were improving and they are checking availability of air tankers.

Immediately thereafter, word came in that fire activity is picking up just south and east of the Tenaya Lodge on the 6S07 road, about one-half mile from Highway 41. Two helicopters are being diverted to that area, and as soon as tankers can begin their work, they will drop retardant along the eastern edge of the fire.

The South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team took over operation of the Railroad Fire at 10 a.m. this morning. This is the same team that successfully managed the South Fork Fire and protected the community of Wawona earlier this month. It is headed up by Deron Mills, who is also the Deputy Fire Chief in Yosemite.

YMSPRR survives the Railroad Fire – photo by Dale Clugston

A check on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad this morning by steam locomotive engineer Greg Haywood, showed that though the smoke is thick and ash is blanketing everything, all the buildings and equipment are still intact, along with the Narrow Gauge Inn next door.

However, there is a spot fire burning at the bottom of the railroad circuit to the northwest of the Lewis Creek. There is Hot Shot crew, along with two engines and dozer actively working this spot fire.

The Railroad Fire was estimated at 920 acres with 5 percent containment this morning.

Seven structures have been lost, and one hundred more are threatened.

Road closure on Highway 41 for Railroad Fire – photo by Matt Henderson

Closures include Highway 41 and all offshoots between Cedar Valley Road and Summerdale Campground in both Madera County and Mariposa County, and Road 630 (Sugar Pine Road) and all cross streets, including Sugar Pine Christian Camps.

The road closure on Highway 41 northbound is at Cedar Valley about three miles north of Oakhurst. The road is closed to southbound traffic inside Yosemite National Park at Wawona.

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 and businesses in the immediate vicinity. Evacuations run north from Fish Camp to the Summerdale Campground.

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.

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 will activate a small animal shelter at the Oakhurst Community Center Pavillion Building by 4 p.m. today. Small animals can also be sheltered at the Mariposa SPCA, 5599 Highway 49 in Mariposa. The phone number is 209-966-5275. Large animals can be sheltered at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds, at 44777 Rodeo Grounds Lane in Coarsegold. The phone number is 559-676-7864.

All roads past Wawona inside Yosemite are open, except Glacier Point Road, which was closed on Sunday due to increased fire activity on the Empire Fire.

For fire updates, residents and visitors can message RAILROADFIRE (one word) to 888777.

The Railroad Fire was reported at 12:20 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29, just south of the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad on the west side of Highway 41.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Below is a map of the Jackson Road area.

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