Firefighters wage a relentless attack against the Castle Fire (with UPDATES in red)

Firefighters wage a relentless attack
This map shows a closeup of the northwesternmost portion of the Castle Fire (center) as it advances north over Dennison Ridge and enters Garfield Grove (morning of September 21). Also shown is the linear Grouse Valley fire operations of September 19-20 that will provide a buffer to halt the fire’s progression toward residences that line the narrow river canyon. From here, keep an eye on Case Mountain to the north (shown on map) and Mineral King to the northeast (not shown on map). The “Fork” label near Cahoon Mountain was the 130-acre Fork Fire that occurred in June 2020.

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

Cause: Lightning

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. 

Firefighters install protective wrap around the George H.W. Bush Tree in Freeman Creek Grove to protect it from the Castle Fire, which has entered this and other sequoia groves. (Inciweb photo)

Mandatory Evacuations: 

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.

Evacuation Warnings: 

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↓

Closeup of the Castle Fire as it descends into the uppermost South Fork canyon in Sequoia National Park.
Firefighters wage a relentless attack
Information is provided and questions answered at the CALFIRE information tent at Village Shopping Center in Three Rivers.

Additional Notes: 

—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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16 thoughts on “Firefighters wage a relentless attack against the Castle Fire (with UPDATES in red)

  • September 22, 2020 at 6:31 am
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    Thank you so much. I appreciate you both for all your doing to help keep the public informed. ❤️

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 6:46 am
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    Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 6:48 am
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    Thank you for dissecting all the fire info and providing the concise info relevant to Three Rivers, and your usual excellent coverage of everything else. Well done!

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 7:45 am
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    What is the “triage” that is being planned/done in the Silver City area. Thank you 3R News for your continued, useful daily updates.

    Reply
    • September 22, 2020 at 8:03 am
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      Structure triage is the process of inspecting and classifying structures according to their defensibility or non-defensibility, based on fire behavior, location, construction, and adjacent fuels.

      Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 7:52 am
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    Even though we now live in Montana, we are interested in Three Rivers and thank you for the excellent updates on the fire.

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 8:00 am
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    Sarah and John:: We deeply appreciate your excellent ongoing communication to our beloved Three Rivers community. during this difficult time. Thank you.
    Ann and Jim Kinkor

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 8:04 am
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    Thanks again for the continued local updates. There is very little on the local news stations only that there are fires going on. It helps us to be aware of where we are in the midst of all of this

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 8:56 am
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    Thank you so much for updating us! Much appreciated . All stay safe!

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 9:18 am
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    We’re another ex Three Rivers family now living in Montana….we’re following the fire closely as still have many friends there. Interesting to hear the Class 1 team that has been in charge of the fire up until now is a Montana based team! Dave and Suzi (Kimzey) Parsons

    Reply
    • September 22, 2020 at 9:31 am
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      Hi Suzi. Your sister was my very first friend , on Highland. All of my dolls were named Susy, after you . Marsha BRONZAN Robbins

      Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 9:28 am
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    No I no longer live in three Rivers my heart is still there, thank you for the detailed and comprehensive facts and specifics And so glad to hear that fire suppression efforts are working.

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 9:35 am
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    I appreciate the updates. Three Rivers has held a special place in my heart for 76 years. My grandparents moved there when my mom was a baby, in 1923. My parents lived there for many years.
    Marsha BRONZAN Robbins

    Reply
  • September 22, 2020 at 3:31 pm
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    Also a former Three Rivers person but still own a home there, living in Connecticut. Your coverage of the fire has been so very helpful. Grateful to all those firefighters!!

    Reply
  • September 23, 2020 at 8:22 am
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    Kudos to the great work done on the back burns by the firefighting crews around Grouse Valley Road, and I trust they take caution when burning in poison oak territory which goes up to 5,000+ feet. Although its a burden not being able to go home yet, the area to go up in flames has no structures and will just run into the main blaze, creating a great western fire divide.

    I’ll be anxious to walk through the Garfield Grove next year-as it looks to have been burned out in entirety along the trail as far as upper & lower groves go. I’ve traipsed through it maybe 8 or 9 times and know it well in its previous look, which was in many places impenetrable understory on steep slopes with Sequoias sticking their necks out. The last recorded fire of size I can find was 1928.

    Reply
  • September 23, 2020 at 8:05 pm
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    John and Sarah: I want to thank you for posting the best, concise and most accurate info on the town and fire status. I think the hardest part about this fire has been the lack of info available. Not all of us are technologically adept at surfing for cal fire, or any other updates. At the beginning, there was a lot of misinformation. I appreciate knowing I could look to you for current and accurate info. Thank you

    Reply

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