NORTH FORK – The Willow fire is now estimated at 1,521 acres, and is still at 5 percent containment. The fire is burning in the Willow Creek Canyon north of North Fork, and east of Bass Lake.
Air Tankers and helicopters worked from above all day, as ground crews strengthened firelines and worked in steep, dense terrain. More resources continue to arrive, as the Incident Command Post at the Old Mill site takes shape. There are currently 738 personnel assigned to the incident.
Robert Moreno outlined the day’s accomplishments by Division –
Division A (see maps below) – Firefighters have about 3,000 feet of line along this section, and continue to reinforce it. Crews are holding the lower portion of the fireline with minimal resources, and only Type 3 engines are able to access this part of the perimeter. Space is tight, and turnaround areas scarce, among large amounts of dead and dying timber and brush.
Division B – Also about 3,000 feet of line on the western flank that runs along the Brown’s Ditch area. This was hit hard with retardant today. The biggest piece of good news from this section, and from Division M, is that the fire did not advance toward Central Camp today.
Division M – There was a lot of activity along the north and east perimeter, as the fire tries to push east into the old burn area of the 2001 North Fork Fire. Rio Bravo and Sierra Hot Shots worked this section of the fireline today, fighting dense brush, heavy downfall and dangerous snags. The line at the top of the ridge appears to be holding at this time.
Division Z – This section of the fire was also very active today, and dozers will be reopening old dozer lines from the old North Fork fire to tie them in to Peckinpah Creek.
Fallers are prepping Douglas Ranger Station Road, Forest Road 8S09, getting rid of any snags posing a danger along that road. Crane Valley Hot Shots are working at the end of the road to assist as dozers tie in with the old dozer line from Cascadel.
There is a heavy retardant line down the entire eastern edge of the fire.
Fire officials expect very dry conditions as the week progresses, with inversion overnight causing reduced visibility in the morning hours. The fact that this fire grew from 200 to 1,100 acres overnight last night demonstrates once again the critically low moisture content in both the dead and the green trees and brush.
Though the area saw over an inch of rain just five days ago, the heavy and live fuels are still dangerously dry, and humidity recovery overnight is low.
The fire is burning through a mix of tall grass, brush, and timber; and the area has a heavy concentration of fallen dead trees from past fires, drought and beetle kill. Short range spotting and active burning, bolstered by strong up-canyon winds, have been observed and are expected to continue as temperatures rise.
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, as is Cascadel Woods.
Whiskers Camp, Gaggs Camp, Whiskey Falls 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 took over command of the fire.
The American Red Cross of the Central Valley has opened 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.
The Willow Fire was reported on Saturday, July 25, at about 2 p.m.