FIRE SEASON 2020: Creek, SQF Complex, Rattlesnake, and Moraine fires

Where in the U.S. are wildfires burning? The West!

Climate-change-fueled wildfires are burning throughout the West with 90 fires burning in California and 23 people dead (19 in California with 3,900 structures burned). In the state, more acres have burned this year than in any other fire season on record. In an unprecedented action, all 18 national forests in California are closed to the public.

It can’t get worse. Or can it? A series of overlapping crises — extreme heat, lightning storms, and a once-in-a-century pandemic — have strained emergency response teams even as monster flames blaze through forests and towns, leaving neighborhoods and even entire communities in ashes.

Quote of the week: “I quite literally have no patience for climate change deniers… You may not believe it intellectually but your own eyes, your own experiences, tell a different story, especially out here on the West Coast of the United States. (Gavin Newsom, California governor) FIRE SEASON 2020

Check out these alarming statistics: The current acreage burned in 2020 is 2.5 million acres in California alone, most of that since mid August. This is 20 times more than last year at this time, and there’s still 2.5 months left in fire season. California started keeping fire records in 1932. Of those 88 years, the 10 worst fires have occurred between 2000 and 2020. And six of the top 20 worst fires are from this year!

The August Complex fire burning in northern California became the largest fire in state history, covering 471,185 acres in the Mendocino National Forest. The fire continues to be largely uncontained, and the state’s third and fourth largest fires are burning too. As of Thursday, Sept. 10, the August Complex — 37 fires that merged — was 24 percent contained.


Oakland, Calif., looking west toward the San Francisco Bay at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 9. The Bay Area was inundated with thick smoke and an eery orange glow.

Around the West: In Oregon, dozens of record-breaking blazes have destroyed hundreds of homes and, in some cases, entire towns. Authorities told 500,000 people, or 10 percent of the state’s population, to evacuate their homes.

In Washington, 600,000 acres have burned since Labor Day. In Colorado, a 100,000-acre fire burning during a heat wave was doused by a rare, early snowfall.

The national forests, where the biggest blazes are burning, have closed all units. The national parks remain open and accessible to the public with stringent fire restrictions in place.

Many potential visitors to the area are cancelling their vacation plans due to smoky conditions or because of confusion as to what’s open, what’s not, and where the fires are actually burning.

Below is a roundup of the nearest fires to Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, which are not threatening the town or any of the main park visitor attractions with flame but are contributing to smoky conditions (as of Thursday morning, Sept. 10). FIRE SEASON 2020

Creek Fire

Location: Northeast of Fresno, east and northeast of Oakhurst, south of Yosemite (Sierra National Forest; Madera and Fresno counties).

Start Date: Friday, Sept. 4, 2020, 6:30 p.m.

Cause: Under investigation (most likely human-caused)

Acreage: 175,893

Containment: 0%

Expected Full Containment: October 15, 2020

Fatalities: 0

Structures Destroyed: 361 (60 single-family residences)

Structures Threatened: 14,074

Personnel: 1,336 total (24 hand crews; 39 water tenders; 23 helicopters; 142 engines; 60 dozers; air tankers are providing suppression as conditions allow).

Evacuations: Mandatory— Shaver Lake; Huntington Lake; Big Creek; Bass Lake Basin, including Wishon, Bass Lake Annex, and Manzanita; the town of North Fork and surrounding area. Warnings— Prather; areas south of Little Sandy / Lodge Rd., northeast of Tollhouse Rd., north of Millerton Rd. / Nicholas Rd.; and Oakhurst, O’Neals, Walker Grade, Chukchansi, Indian Lakes, and Coarsegold east of Highway 41. FIRE SEASON 2020

Closures: SR-168 at Tollhouse Road,;SR-168 at Cressman Road; Auberry Road at Powerhouse Road; SR-168 at Sierra High School; Road 426 at Road 223; Road 200 at Road 221; Road 274 at Roads 222 and 225; Skyranch at Buckskin; Cascadel Arch; Road 420 at Road 223,;White Chief Mountain Road at Sugar Pine; and Fish Camp. A fire advisory (not a closure) is in effect south of Chinquapin (including Wawona) near the south entrance of Yosemite National Park (Hwy. 41); Mariposa Grove is closed.

SQF Complex

Location: 5 miles east of Camp Nelson (Golden Trout Wilderness in Sequoia and Inyo national forests; Tulare County); consists of the Castle Fire and Shotgun Fire.

Start Date: August 19, 2020

Cause: Lightning

Acreage: 67,529

Containment: 12%

Expected Full Containment: September 30, 2020

Structures Threatened: 838

Personnel: 794 (12 hand crews, 18 water tenders, 7 helicopters, 52 engines, 8 dozers).

Evacuations: Camp Nelson, Sequoia Crest, Alpine Village, Redwood Drive, Ponderosa, Cedar Slope, Pyles Boys Camp, Coy Flat, Mountain Aire, Pier Point. FIRE SEASON 2020

Rattlesnake Fire

National Park Service photo

Location: Backcountry of Sequoia National Park, east of Franklin Pass.

Start Date: August 16, 2020

Cause: Lightning

Acreage: 1,060

Containment: 0%

Personnel: 8 (being monitored by air)

Trail Closures: Forester Lake Trail junction northeast to the confluence of Lost Canyon and Big Arroyo, east to the confluence of Big Arroyo and Kern River, east to the park boundary south of Boreal Plateau, south along the park boundary to the Kern River, north along the park boundary to Shotgun Pass, and north to the Rattlesnake-Forester Lake Trail junction.

Moraine Fire

National Park Service photo

Location: Southeast of Cedar Grove, half-mile east of Avalanche Pass Trail, in the backcountry Kings Canyon National Park. FIRE SEASON 2020

Start Date: August 16, 2020


Acreage: 575

Containment: 70%

Personnel: 20

Closures: None; trails in this area remain open.

Moraine Fire (National Park Service photo)


Evacuation and ‘hardening homes’: Is Three Rivers ready for a fire emergency?

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3 thoughts on “FIRE SEASON 2020: Creek, SQF Complex, Rattlesnake, and Moraine fires

  • September 11, 2020 at 10:02 am

    Excellent summaries thank you!

  • September 11, 2020 at 10:23 am

    So far so good as far as conflagrations go in our area and should we be so lucky to avoid them from happening to us, time to think, no make that act on clearing some of those fire ladders I see on your property when i’m driving by, you know that broken off dead limb about 11 feet long that extends from a branch of your oak tree down to a thicket of foliage that died back with its roots on, those ones.

  • September 11, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Thank you Sarah. An excellent, clear summary – except that the official maps are very difficult to make out third-generation. But thanks for supplying them and the descriptions. Better than I’ve found searching other sources.


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