SQF Complex (consists of Castle Fire and the smaller Shotgun Fire)
Location: 12 air miles east of the town center of Three Rivers; 10 air miles west of Mineral King (Golden Trout Wilderness in Sequoia and Inyo national forests; Tulare County); consists of the Castle Fire and Shotgun Fire. Firefighters wage a relentless attack
Start Date: August 19, 2020
Acreage: 137,508 (an increase of 2,300 acres in 24 hours);
Containment of Castle Fire: 18% (an additional 4% containment in 2 days; in the southeast region of the fire)
UPDATE (September 22, 7 a.m.): 141,600 acres; 33% containment
Expected Full Containment: End of October 2020 or when the rains come
Structures Threatened: 3,188
Structures Destroyed: 150
Personnel: 1,422 (25 hand crews, 36 water tenders, 9 helicopters, 96 engines, 34 dozers); a decrease of 59 personnel since September 19. Firefighters wage a relentless attack
Where to Watch: Keep an eye on the NORTHWEST portion of the Castle Fire (on the map above).
If this part of the fire turns WEST, the frontline of the battle will be the Grouse Valley fire control road and its recently burned-out acreage that is intended to stop any advancement to the residences and ranches in the South Fork canyon (currently, the fire is 5.25 miles away from the intersection of South Fork Drive and Grouse Valley Road).
If the fire continues its rampage to the NORTH and crosses the South Fork river, then the fight is on to keep it off of Cinnamon Gap (7.75 miles) and from continuing to Case Mountain (and its associated giant sequoia groves) and into the Salt Creek canyon.
If the fire makes a run to the NORTHEAST, it will put firefighters on alert in the Mineral King area to protect the structures, many of which are historic. For the fire to get to the cabin communities (10 miles), it would have to make its way through the footprints of the Eden and Horse fires in the Hockett Meadow area (3.5 miles) and the prescribed burn blocks in the Tar Gap area.
Also keep an eye on the sky. ADDITIONAL AIR RESOURCES have been assigned to the Castle Fire, according to CALFIRE, including nine helicopters and multiple air tankers.
KAWEAH RIVER CANYON— South Fork Drive beginning at the 43000 block (2 miles from Highway 198) and higher; Mineral King area cabin communities (Atwell Mill, Cabin Cove, Silver City, West Mineral King, East Mineral King).
TULE RIVER CANYON— Camp Nelson, Sequoia Crest, Alpine Village, Redwood Drive, Ponderosa, Cedar Slope, Pyles Boys Camp, Coy Flat, Mountain Aire, Pier Point.
THREE RIVERS— All of Three Rivers except for the mandatory portion above. Firefighters wage a relentless attack
TULE RIVER CANYON— Springville between Globe Drive and Balch Park Road.
Three Rivers Area Closures: South Fork Drive at Conley Creek Bridge (2 miles from Highway 198), Generals Highway from Sequoia entrance station to The Wye, Kings Canyon Highway from Big Stump entrance station, Mineral King Road at Oak Grove Bridge. Several businesses have closed temporarily due to heavy smoke conditions and evacuation preparations. Three Rivers School was back in session Monday, Sept. 21, after cancelling (distance-learning) classes last week.
Weather: Temperatures will moderate this week with daytime highs between now and Saturday, Sept. 26. The beginning of next week (Sunday-Wednesday, Sept. 27-30) will experience a return to a run of hot weather with temperatures at or near the century mark. Fire activity will increase as the inversion clears and humidity decreases. Fire growth will be to the east and north, excepting for firing operations. Firefighters wage a relentless attack
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW↓
—Air quality in the Kaweah canyon remains in the HAZARDOUS range. Avoid strenuous exercise (or, for that matter, breathing!) when outside. Keep doors and windows closed.
—The burn that was ignited along the Grouse Valley fire control road (located 6 miles up South Fork Drive) was successful in creating a south-to-north buffer to protect residences in the South Fork canyon in case the fire works its way down Dennison Mountain to the west. The success of this burn operation is what provided authorities with the confidence to allow Cherokee Oaks and lower South Fork Drive residents to return to their homes. Firefighters wage a relentless attack
—The Sequoia Complex is under the unified interagency command of the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1, CAL FIRE, and National Park Service.
—The northwest portion of the Castle Fire is currently burning in two sequoia groves in Sequoia National Park: Dillonwood Grove and Garfield Grove.
—Here is where to expect firefighter activity: Cinnamon Gap and Case Mountain (across the South Fork river and to the north of Dennison Mountain); Silver City and the rest of the Mineral King area (triage on structures in case the fire turns east); Blue Ridge (west of Three Rivers); and Tule River Indian Reservation.
—From CALFIRE’s morning report (September 22, 7 a.m.): Upper level winds changing ninety degrees to northwest, but still primarily terrain driven winds affecting fire movement. Fire activity continues to be moderated by smoke and inversion layers. Increased fire activity around Dennison Ridge. Rollout on steep slopes contributes slow fire advance. The burn out from Mountain Home to Wishon Road to Wishon Camp is holding and finishing interior burning. Firing done in the Grouse Valley continues to hold above the South Fork community. Firing operations from Grouse Valley towards Kramer Creek to begin securing the west perimeter of the fire below Dennison Mountain. Firefighters wage a relentless attack
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