NORTH FORK – Mountain area residents woke to a red sunrise and the smell of smoke as the Willow Fire grew to 1,100 acres overnight. It is now 5 percent contained.
The fire, which was reported at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 25, is burning in heavy fuels along the Willow Creek drainage north of North Fork and east of the south end of Bass Lake.
Incident Commander Charlotte Jordan says the fire has moved into the old burn area from the 2001 North Fork Fire, when over 4,000 acres were burned in the Peckinpah Mountain/Willow Canyon area. The wide-spread tree mortality and large snags are adding a dangerous type of fuel to this fire.
Crews have line around the southern end of the fire, and dozer line along a section of the western flank. Early efforts today for air resources will focus on the higher sections and out towards Camp 5.
Heavy smoke in the fire area may delay air operations this morning, but Air Attack will be over the fire by 8 a.m. and assess conditions at that time. There is one Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT – DC-10), two Large Air Tankers, and Type 1 and Type 2 helicopters on order for this morning.
Helicopters will be dipping out of Bass Lake near the dam, and the public needs to keep that area clear for everyone’s safety.
Temperatures are forecast to be in the mid 90s today in the fire area.
Crews and equipment continue to roll in, with about 500 personnel currently on the fire. Those numbers will likely climb to around 700 by the end of the day.
Closures still remain in place on Road 274 between Willow Canyon Drive and Marina View. Everyone to the east of that section of road has been evacuated, and Marina View residents remain on an evacuation advisory.
Whiskers Camp, Gaggs Camp and Central Camp have been evacuated.
Douglas Ranger Station Road is closed at Trails End, and residents of Wild Rose and Bear Clover have been notified that they need to be prepared to leave, but they are not under an evacuation order at this time.
Autumn Ridge Way (Whiskey Falls Road/Forest Road 8S09) is closed at Cascadel Woods, and the campgrounds above it have been evacuated.
About 450 structures are threatened, though none have been lost.
An Incident Command Post has been set up at the Old Mill Site, and the build-out will continue throughout the day.
At 6 p.m., the South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team will take over command of the fire, which is currently in being jointly managed by the US Forest Service and Cal Fire.
The American Red Cross of the Central Valley is opening an evacuation center at the Oakhurst Community Center, 39800 Road 425B, for residents affected by the Willow Fire.
Volunteers will be on scene to provide comfort, snacks, and water for evacuated families. The Red Cross is also coordinating with the Central California Animal Disaster Team to care for domestic pets.
(Click map to enlarge. The solid red line at the bottom left is the completed line. The black hash line is the dozer line, and the red hash line is the incomplete line).