Progress made on Sequoia Fire Complex

By BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

After more than two months, hundreds of personnel from four separate Incident Management Teams have been working with the United States Forest Service and Cal Fire to bring the Sequoia Fire Complex (or SQF Complex) under control.

The fire began as multiple fires, sparked by lightning in August, before coalescing into a unified blaze across the Sequoia wilderness. After burning through nearly 170,000 acres, destroying hundreds of structures, injuring 17 people and filling the Southern California sky with smoke, the wildfire is crawling toward full containment at 75 percent as of Thursday, Oct. 22.

“We would like to thank all the local communities for their patience and understanding over the past few weeks as we’ve managed the SQF Complex Fire,” said Michael Wakoski, incident commander of California Interagency Incident Management Team 13. “It has been an honor and a privelege to help bring this fire closer to full containment.

Voluntary evacuations have been lifted for Camp Nelson, Pier Point, Mountain Aire, Coy Flat, Doyle Springs, Rogers Camp, Sequoia Crest, Alpine Village, Redwood Drive Area and Balch Park Road. Warnings remain in place in the Three Rivers area, which is open to residents only.

The general public is still advised not to travel into these communities as the extra traffic can impact the ability for crews to quickly access the area.

While Forest Closure Orders remain in place for portions of Sequoia National Forest, available areas include Hume Lake Ranger District, most of the Kern River Ranger District and a small area of the Western Divide Ranger District. Visitors can still access the Trail of 100 Giants and a portion of the Sherman Pass Road between Mtn. Road 99 and Cherry Hill Road. More information can be found online at fs.usda.gov/alerts/sequoia/ alerts-notices.

“In and around the fire area, hazards continue to be identified that pose a threat to public safety,” said a USFS release. “The roads and trail systems within the burn area are narrow and hazardous. Additionally, there are numerous natural hazards created by the fire, such as tree snags, staubs, root holes that have been created by roots burning beneath the surface of the soil, etc. The roads are being used by fire equipment for ongoing suppression, suppression repair, and BAER activities making them unsafe for the public.  Once work is complete, additional areas will reopen to the public.”

To stay up to date on the fire’s status, visit inciweb.nwcg.gov/incidents/ maps/7048. For a smoke outlook, visit wildlandfiresmoke.net/outlooks/ SouthernSierra-Sequoia.

Story First Published: 2020-10-23