Forest Service Temporarily Closes Southern California National Forests, Adds Prohibitions in Others
VALLEJO, Calif., September 7, 2020 – Most of California remains under the threat of unprecedented and dangerous fire conditions with a combination of extreme heat, significant wind events, dry conditions, and firefighting resources that are stretched to the limit. Due to these conditions, the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region is announcing the following temporary closures and fire restrictions to provide for public safety and reduce the potential for human caused fire starts. They will go into effect at 5:00 pm Pacific Standard Time on Monday, September 7, 2020, and will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change.
- Closure of the following National Forests: Stanislaus National Forest, Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Inyo National Forest, Los Padres National Forest, Angeles National Forest, San Bernardino National Forest, and Cleveland National Forest.
- Prohibition of the use of any ignition source on all National Forest System lands (campfires, gas stoves, etc.) throughout California.
- Closure of all developed campgrounds and day-use sites on National Forests in California.
“The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously. Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire,” said Randy Moore, Regional Forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region. “We are bringing every resource to bear nationally and internationally to fight these fires, but until conditions improve, and we are confident that National Forest visitors can recreate safely, the priority is always to protect the public and our firefighters. With these extreme conditions, these temporary actions will help us do both.”
An example of extreme fire behavior is the Creek Fire on the Sierra National Forest which began on Friday Sep. 4th and grew rapidly on Saturday, Sep. 5th. The fire made a 15-mile run in a single day and burned 36,000 acres, prompting evacuations and life saving measures. The California National Guard evacuated at least 200 people from Wagner Mammoth Pool Campground and assessed them for medical needs.
The Forest Service thanks our partners and the public for their cooperation and understanding of this monumental fire threat. It is critical that all Californians and national forest visitors follow these important closures and restrictions for their own safety and the safety of our firefighters.
The Forest Service manages 18 National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region, which encompasses over 20 million acres across California, and assists forest landowners in California, Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. National forests supply 50 percent of the water in California and form the watershed of most major aqueducts and more than 2,400 reservoirs throughout the state. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R5.
Sequoia Complex (SQF Complex) Fire Update
Additional community evacuations were issued yesterday, September 6, 2020 for the communities of Camp Nelson, Coy Flat, Mountain Air, Pier Point and points between. Evacuation orders remain in effect for Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest, Redwood Drive, Ponderosa, Cedar Slope, Pyles Boys Camp, and points between. An evacuation warning is in place for Doyle Springs.
The Infrared flight was unable to be flown last night due to mechanical issues. Updated acreage, containment and maps will be shared when available. The Castle Fire is mapped at 55,523 acres, including 11,022 acres within the Inyo National Forest boundary, and the remainder on the Sequoia National Forest.
Sequoia (#SQF) Complex: The complex includes the Castle and Shotgun fires.
Castle Fire: On Sunday afternoon, the western edge of the fire experienced dynamic growth, reaching the edge of Freeman Grove. Additional firefighting resources were shifted to the area to bolster efforts. By 1 PM, the fire was experiencing short runs and spotting, resulting in crews being pulled off of the line at 2 PM. Evacuations of local communities were ordered due to imminent threat. By 4 PM, firefighters were able to reengage in defensive tactics in the effort to stop the fire spread south towards Lloyd Meadow. Crews worked into the night, constructing direct line.
Today, firefighters will be scouting the size and intensity of the slop over into Freeman Grove. They will look for opportunities to go direct, unless the fire activity necessitates using indirect tactics. Resources will be positioned in an effort to protect local values at risk, including structures and natural resources to the greatest extent possible. Local forest resources have been invaluable, helping to guide the team with their knowledge of old burn scars, dozer lines and roads that can be used in firefighting tactics.
On the northeast flank of the fire, firefighters are working to limit impacts to values at risk within the Golden Trout Wilderness and to limit spread on the eastern edge of the fire. Further south, resources west of Little Horse Meadows established primary and secondary lines with handline and equipment. East of Ponderosa, firefighters made a lot of ground, putting direct line into Lion Meadows Road. Today, fire crews will work to secure fire edge from the east side of the Kern River to the east utilizing direct and indirect tactics. Crews will initiate firing operations as needed.
Shotgun Fire: Estimated at 438 acres, the fire is slowly burning in a rocky drainage and is monitored by aircraft.
Weather: Monday’s weather is expected to be hot, dry, and breezy, consistent with the previous few days. Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-80s at higher elevations to lower 100s on the valley floors. The minimum relative humidity will continue to drop into the teens and possibly the upper single digits today. Tuesday’s weather calls for a chance of slightly cooler temperatures with only a slight bump in relative humidity. Wednesday and beyond the forecast calls for some additional cooling, but also a return to a more typical shifting wind pattern.
Smoke: Smoke will be heavy throughout the area today, and may not lift the whole day. As winds shift from the Northwest, the Kern River Valley will be impacted with smoke from the Creek Fire, as well as the Sequoia (SQF) Complex.
Evacuations and Closures:
· The Tulare County Sheriff issued an Evacuation Order yesterday, 9/6/20 for Camp Nelson, Coy Flat, Mountain Aire and Pier Point.
· Previous Evacuation Orders remain in effect for Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest and Redwood Drive (issued 9/4/20) as well as for Ponderosa, Cedar Slope, Pyles Camp, and points between (8/28/20).
· An Evacuation Warning is in place for Doyle Springs.
· For the latest in evacuation centers, visit Redcross.org
· Tulare County residents are encouraged to sign up for emergency notifications at alerttc.com
· The road closure for SR190 has been expanded and is closed from 16.2 miles east of Porterville (at Rancho Rio Vista Road) to Quaking Aspen Campground.
· Roads closure points into these areas – Hwy 190 & the County Transfer Station – M107 and Mountain Road 50 – Johnsondale Bridge & Sherman Pass. These points are closed to all traffic into the area.
· Campgrounds closed: Belknap, Coy Flat, Dome Rock, Lower Peppermint, Upper Peppermint, & Quaking Aspen
· Sequoia National Forest issued Order No. 0513-20-31 SQF Complex Fire Area Road and Trails Closure on 8/26/2020.
· Inyo National Forest issued Order No. 05-04-21-20-17 Inyo National Forest Castle Fire Trail, Road, and Area Closure on 9/3/20 which expands the closure area of the Golden Trout Wilderness and Monache Meadows. The original closure areas continue as specified in Order No. 05-04-51-20-16. These closures are for firefighter and public safety.
· A Temporary Flight Restriction has been issued for the airspace around the fire complex. Drones are also prohibited.
Priorities include: Ponderosa, Cedar Slope, Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest, Redwood Drive, facilities within Trout Meadow, structures along the Lloyd Meadows Road, Pyles Boys Camp, grazing cattle west of North Road, Freeman Creek Grove and other Sequoia groves, the President George H.W. Bush Tree, Camp Whitsett, archeological values, Peppermint Fire Station, Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog and Little Kern Golden Trout Critical Habitats, Pacific Fisher habitats.