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Railroad Fire near Westfall Ranger Station - photo by Gina Clugston

Very Active Fire Behavior Overnight On The Railroad Fire

FISH CAMP — The Railroad Fire was very active overnight, pushing to the east along Jackson Road (6S07), and to the southwest behind Westfall Ranger Station.

The fire is now estimated at 1,901 acres. Yesterday’s estimated containment was 5 percent, but with the fire pushing out on so many parts of the perimeter, the containment is likely negligible at this point.

All closures and evacuations remain in place (see list below), and all areas of the fire continue to pose great risks to firefighters. The word of the day from Incident Commander Deron Mills is “snags,” and he warned crews that there is just no place on this fire where you are out from under them.

Night Ops Section Chief Robert Sanders said that the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad has not suffered any further damage, beyond the loss of equipment on the siding late last night. All structures and other rolling stock were protected by crews who staged there overnight.

After the wind event that kicked up fire activity around the Westfall Ranger Station yesterday afternoon, it appears that the station suffered no damage.

The fire pushed hard to the east overnight, burning about 50 acres southeast of the Tenaya Lodge along Jackson Road. It was also very active on the west side of Highway 41 from Westfall north.

Air Ops will be requesting two heavies and two of “any other type” of air tankers today, but will have to wait and see what is available.

Fire managers expect more of the same type of activity they saw yesterday, with elevated fire behavior as temperatures rise. It is expected to reach into triple digits today, with dangerously low humidity between 16 and 21 percent. Wind gusts are expected to reach up to 20 mph on the ridgetops this evening.

The fire is expected to spread north and east near the community of Fish Camp and Yosemite Mountain Ranch property.

Logistics personnel worked throughout the night at the Ahwahnee Hills Regional Park, literally carving out space for the Incident Command Post. Sleeper trailers, shower facilities and portable office units continue to roll in, meal facilities are up and running, and communications set-ups are being put in place. When the fire is over, they will return the property to its pre-fire condition.

Shift change on the fire takes place twice a day, from about 5:30 to 6:30, a.m. and p.m. The public is asked to be aware of large equipment on Highway 41 and Highway 49 during those hours.

There will be a community meeting tonight, Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m. at the Oakhurst Community Center. The South Central Interagency Incident Management Team will be present to give an update on the Railroad Fire and answer questions from the public.

Road 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. Jackson Road is closed to Fresno Dome.

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 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.

UPDATE: Aug. 31 4 p.m. **A Mandatory Evacuation Order has been issued for Big Sandy Campground due to the #RailroadFire. The area of Sky Ranch is under advisory at this time. Monitor the situation and be prepared to take action immediately. Don’t wait for an evacuation order to leave if you feel threatened. If you’re in need of evacuation assistance, call 9-1-1. A Red Cross evacuation center has been established at the Oakhurst Community Center, 39800 Road 425B. 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.**

 

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