The Windy Fire had reached 91,963 acres by Saturday night, an increase of 726 acres from the morning. The containment of the fire, meanwhile, had reached 52%.
On the north side of the blaze and just south of Camp Nelson, there was unburned vegetation inside the blaze which began to actively burn. Sequoia National Forestry Services, however, said the new burn area did not pose a threat to the containment lines.
On the east side of the blaze, crews were able to extinguish the blaze directly from Johnsondale to the south and firefighters expressed confidence they could make it to Speas Ridge before jumping into Flynn Canyon. This is where direct removal tactics were no longer feasible.
South of Flynn Canyon, helicopters were used to knock down water on the edge of the blaze, slowing the progress of the blaze east toward the Kern River.
Also along the south side of the blaze, crews were finding and extinguishing numerous hot spots and had to work in that area for a few more days before containment was established.
And on the west side, the fire was still actively advancing west but generally moving down the slope and not exhibiting extreme behavior.
Evacuation orders and warnings
Earlier on Saturday, evacuation orders and warnings changed for those affected by the KNP and Windy Fire complex.
In Fresno County, north of where the KNP complex burned down in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, there are now extended evacuation warnings.
“New areas subject to warnings include Sequoia Lake, Cedarbrook, Etheda Springs and Pinehurst,” Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tony Botti said Saturday morning. The areas are K88, K89, and K159 on the Fresno County Evacuation Map.
“These two areas are located to the north of the area that had previously been placed in ‘warning’ status,” Botti said.
Air quality in the Fresno area and throughout the Central San Joaquin Valley and Sierra ranges from unhealthy to hazardous due to smoke from forest fires.
Some downgraded evacuation orders in Tulare County
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office also released an update on Saturday on evacuations further south, closer to the fires.
Evacuation orders were reduced to Saturday noon warnings for some areas affected by the Windy Fire, which is burning in Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia National Forest; the Tule River Indian Reserve; and county and state areas of responsibility.
Communities went from evacuation orders to warnings on Saturday: Sugarloaf Village (not counting Sugarloaf Saw Mill), Panorama Heights, Poso Park, Idlewild, Pleasant View, Balance Rock, Posey and Vincent Ranch.
This fire-free area stretches from Sugarloaf Peak in the west to Buck Peak, south to Vincent Ranch at the Tulare / Kern County line, east to Forest Service Road 24S07 and north to Sugarloaf Peak, the sheriff’s office said.
“At the moment, only residents are allowed to return with ID and proof of residency,” said Sheriff’s spokeswoman Liz Jones. “A road closure remains in effect at Old Stage Road and Jack Ranch Road. “
Previous evacuation orders and warnings remain in effect. More information is available on the Tulare County Evacuation Map at tularecounty.ca.gov/emergencies.
Fourteen houses and 14 outbuildings have been reported destroyed by the Windy Fire. Residents looking for information about their property can call the Tulare County Information Hotline at 559-802-9790. There is an evacuation shelter at Porterville College, 100 E. College Ave., Porterville.
Mineral King Road will be closed from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to allow firefighters and equipment to move along the narrow road.
Large parts of the Sequoia National Forest are closed, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks remain closed west of the Pacific Crest Trail and south of the ridge line north of the Ionian Basin. BLM Case Mountain Extensive Recreation Management Area is also closed.
KNP complex update: hot and dry conditions continue
Active fire behavior in the KNP complex was again expected on Saturday, with a high pressure peak bringing hot and dry conditions, and light winds are expected to surface over the blaze by mid-afternoon.
The lightning blaze was 20% contained on Saturday after burning about 58,283 acres. There are 1345 people working to put it out.
“Firefighters remain in the communities of Three Rivers and Ash Mountain as an increase in fire behavior was observed yesterday,” officials said.
Firefighters also plan to continue fighting the wildfires on Saturday by starting low-intensity fires in Redwood Mountain Grove, along the Generals Highway and in areas south of Eshom Point if conditions are favorable.
The construction of the containment line continues, as well as the protection of structures in the communities of Eshom and Hartland.
“Firefighters on the eastern flank will continue to secure the Giant Forest Grove,” officials added, “while also supporting strategic fire operations to the north if necessary.”
Work continues on Mineral King Road. Firefighters said the fire is expected to progress further south towards that road on Saturday. Drones are being used along the western perimeter to gather information, and planes will support firefighters on the ground “as air quality permits.”
On Friday, the northwest flank of the blaze crossed the north fork of the Kaweah River and the eastern perimeter near Castle Creek Grove saw the most active fire behavior and new growth.
Windy Fire update: the southwest side is a priority
The Windy Fire covers approximately 91,237 acres, an increase of over 1,400 acres in the previous 24 hours. The lightning-induced blaze was at 52% containment on Saturday, with 2,343 people working to put it out.
“The fire behavior was active and exhibited a high resistance to control,” said fire officials. “Poor relative humidity recovery overnight again encouraged increased spread of fires in the grass and brush fuel types earlier in the day.”
This included a small fire located outside the perimeter near White River.
“The top priority continues to be the southwest side,” officials continued, “where crews continue to make good progress securing the containment lines and defending the structure around Sugarloaf and Sugarloaf Mountain. Park north to Pine Flat and California Hot Springs. “
This story was originally published 2 October 2021 13:54.