California forest fires continue to rage out of control

California forest fires continue to rage out of controlThe Windy Fire, that started on September 9th on the Tule River Indian Reservation, has burned over 88,068 acres. As of September 30 the fire had 35% containment and utilized 2,498 personnel, including 68 hand crews, 148 engines, 16 helicopters, 32 dozers, and 12 water tenders. Structures threatened were: 2,000 Residences, 100 Commercial with two Commercial, 14 residences, and 12 outbuilding structures destroyed with 3 injuries.

The fire is burning on the Tule River Indian Reservation and the Sequoia National Forest, including the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The fire perimeter increased 7,000 acres in 24 hours on Sunday, the most intense fire activity continued to be on the southwest side near Sugarloaf Peak and on the southeast side near Marshall Meadow and Bull Run Meadow. Fire engines were engaged in structure defense in the area. Crews also continued mopping up hotspots along the dozer and hand lines that extend into California Hot Springs. The Sugarloaf and Pine Flat areas continue to be a priority and crews are providing structure defense, extinguishing hot spots and improving containment lines.

Monday and Tuesday had a high potential for rapid fire growth in the those areas due to westerly winds and long-range spotting of hot embers that were blowing ahead of the active fire.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office issued that evacuation orders and warnings can change suddenly, so please refer to https://tularecounty.ca.gov/emergencies/ for the Windy Fire Evacuation Warning Area Map.

While wildfires are a natural part of California’s landscape, the fire season in California and across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year.

According to Cal Fire, warmer spring and summer temperatures, reduced snowpack, and earlier spring snowmelt create longer and more intense dry seasons that increase moisture stress on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to severe wildfire.

The length of fire season is estimated to have increased by 75 days across the Sierras and seems to correspond with an increase in the extent of forest fires across the state.

A summary of all 2021 California incidents, including those managed by Cal Fire and other partner agencies. To date there is an estimated 1,968,326 Acres Burned, 7,064 Incidents, 3,050 Structures Damaged or Destroyed and 1 Confirmed Loss of Life

Cal Fire’s Active Fires of Interest in our area as of September 28 are the KNP complex with 46,976 acres at 8% containment and the Windy Fire with 87,901 acres and 25% containment.

Laura Austin photo: During first few days of the week there was poor visibility due to dense smoke, required headlights for the North bound traffic on 395. Mountains ordinarily highly visible were obscured by the heavy layer of smoke from the Windy and KNP Complex Fires. By Thursday the smoke had cleared with high visibility.

Story First Published: 2021-10-01