‘Windy,’ ’Freeman’ fires bring heavy smoke to IWV

‘Windy,’ ’Freeman’ fires bring heavy smoke to IWVAn accumulation of heavy smoke from the Windy Fire, and the small Freeman Fire, made for limited visibility and potential health hazards for residents of the Indian Wells Valley and surrounding areas.

At 6:30pm Saturday, Kern Co. and BLM Fire Departments responded to a brush fire burning near Inyokern on hwy 178 approximately 7 miles west of hwy 14. The Freeman Fire, forced a temporary closure of that portion of the hwy. The fire was reported to be 10 to 15 acres. No structures were reported threatened.

The Windy Fire as of Wed. was 43,745 acres with 6% containment. The fire is burning on the Tule River Indian Reservation and in the Sequoia National Forest, including the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The fire has impacted the Peyrone, the South Peyrone, the Redhill and the Long Meadow Giant Sequoia Groves. The Long Meadow Grove includes the Trail of 100 Giants.

Firefighters are digging handlines around trees and spraying water to carefully protect the Giant Sequoias along the Trail. The Johnsondale, Camp Whitsitt, Ponderosa and Quaking Aspen communities remain under an evacuation order, and firefighters have successfully protected the structures in these areas. Camp Nelson remains under an evacuation warning. The Mule Peak Lookout was destroyed in the early stages of the fire under extreme burning conditions, despite being wrapped with fire-resistant material.

On the fire’s west flank, crews and bulldozers are completing indirect control lines away from the fire’s edge in preparation for burning operations to secure that area.

Firefighters have assessed and are protecting structures in the Ponderosa and Peppermint areas. Firefighters are constructing direct fireline along the fire’s edge on the southeast flank in the Johnsondale area. Structures in that area remain unaffected by the fire.

Laura Austin Photo: Firefighter assesses the Freeman Fire that forced a temporary closure of Hwy 178 just west of Hwy 14 Saturday evening. The fire was reported to be 10 to 15 acres.

Story First Published: 2021-09-24