Sequoia wildfires continue to burn in central California

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The nearly four-week-long KNP complex fire in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in eastern Tulare County increased by about 5,000 acres overnight, reaching nearly 68,000 acres as of Monday morning.

The US Forest Service’s InciWeb incident information system reported that the blaze spanned 67,708 acres in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Forest, with containment estimated at around 11% .

That’s a change from Sunday’s situation report of 62,761 acres and 20 percent containment.

New evacuation orders were issued Sunday evening for residents of the Mineral King, Gateway, area towards the park entrance, including Sycamore Drive.

As the lightning-triggered fire on September 10 continues to burn, the KNP complex – along with the Windy Fire burning further south in Tulare County – pumped smoke into the air above the Valley of San Joaquin. The volume of smoke, fine soot and ash drifting westward from the blaze turned the skies over Fresno and the region to a muddy orange-gray and triggered a continuous air quality warning for air quality people. residents of the valley.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District predicted that air quality would be “unhealthy” in the Merced County Valley south to Kern County.

Incident commander Dave Bales, who leads the Southwest Zone Type 1 firefighting team, said Sunday night winds caused a localized blaze south of Mineral King Road , prompting final evacuation orders from Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux.

As of Monday, at least 1,500 firefighters were engaged in the blaze, including 61 fire trucks, 40 water supply tanks, 21 bulldozers and 12 helicopters. The fire behavior included extreme climbs and short range point fires. Weather conditions are also a concern for firefighters, as high pressure continued to keep smoke in place in the area. Very low humidity also means that the fuels fueling the fire – wood, chaparral and short grass in the forest – continue to dry out, contributing to the active spread of the fire.

Over the next 24 hours, fire crews expect to see active to extreme fire behavior due to the low humidity. The fire is expected to continue to move north up the Redwood Drainage and into the Pierce Creek Drainage. On the east side, the fire is expected to continue to spread east, south of the middle fork of the Kaweah River, and back toward Mineral King Road.

Windy Fire keeps growing

Further south, in the Sequoia National Forest, the Windy Fire is now estimated at nearly 95,000 acres, with containment lines now encircling 68% of the fire’s perimeter. The Windy Fire ignited on September 9 and was caused by lightning strikes like the KNP complex to the north.

Growth of the wildfire was reported to be approximately 2,300 acres in the previous 24 hours.

The fire is also burning in the Tule River Preserve as well as the Sequoia National Forest, including the Giant Sequoia National Monument. To date, he has burned 14 houses, 14 outbuildings and two commercial buildings. Four people were injured by the fire.

About 2,000 other homes and 100 commercial buildings remain at risk from the Windy Fire.

Evacuation orders were lowered Monday afternoon to warnings at California Hot Springs and Pine Flat, but the orders remain in place in the White River Summer Home tract, Sugarloaf Saw Mill and Sugarloaf Mountain Park.

Nearly 2,300 firefighters work on the Windy Fire, including 57 labor teams, 112 engines, 17 helicopters, 14 bulldozers and 13 water supply trucks.

The National Interagency Coordination Center reports that together, the fires at the KNP complex and Windy cost more than $ 86 million to fight.

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Tim Sheehan, a resident of Lifelong Valley, has worked as a reporter and editor in the area since 1986 and has worked for The Fresno Bee since 1998. He is currently The Bee’s data reporter and also covers the bullet train project in California and other transportation issues. He grew up in Madera, holds a journalism degree from Fresno State and an MA in Leadership Studies from Fresno Pacific University.
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