These extreme max temps combined with lows in the mid 70s to lower 80s will make Sunday one of the most hazardous in recent memory. (National Weather Service)
Here’s a roundup of the local fires
Although it looks as though a wildfire is in close enough proximity to pose a danger to Three Rivers and its environs, that is not the case. All fires are far enough away that no flame will be experienced during this hot, dry, hazardous time of year, but the residual smoke has settled into the Kaweah canyon and could possibly remain until the rainy season, which is months away.
As the weekend’s high pressure settles into the region, the smoke is lying like a blanket over the Kaweah canyon. On Thursday, Sept. 3, those weren’t snowflakes drifting down from the sky. It was ash. Air quality is unhealthy so try not to breathe for a couple more months.
During Labor Day weekend 2020, temperatures are forecast to come near or exceed the hottest ever recorded for these dates, with widespread highs up to 115 degrees (a temp of 109 is forecast for Three Rivers on Sunday, Sept. 6). “These extreme max temps combined with lows in the mid 70s to lower 80s will make Sunday one of the most hazardous in recent memory,” the National Weather Service reported.
As the climate crisis continues to intensify, these wildfires will only become worse. The region has experienced this unrelenting smoke many times in the past couple of decades, most of which is due to fires too big to extinguish on national forest lands: McNally Fire (2002; human-caused; 150,700 acres), Lion Fire (2011; lightning-caused; 20,700 acres), Rough Fire (2015; lightning-caused; 151,600 acres). Another Forest Service fire fiasco
SQF Complex Fire
The SQF Complex encompasses the Castle and Shotgun fires, both lightning-caused. In total, it has burned 46,328 acres as of Thursday, September 3, and grew 3,754 acres in the previous 24 hours. Approximately 6,000 acres of the Castle Fire is burning on the Inyo National Forest with the remainder on the Sequoia National Forest, which is where it started on August 19 northeast of Camp Nelson in Tulare County. The containment estimate remains at 1 percent. Mike Goicoechea, Incident Commander, Northern Rockies Type 1 Incident Management Team took command of the fire on September 3. Currently, 632 personnel are assigned; with the transition, additional resources are expected to arrive.
Castle Fire: The fire perimeter remains active, encompassing 45,296 acres. The northern flanks are encroaching on Osa Meadow and progressing towards Angora Mountain with wind-driven runs and group torching. Substantial heat remains on the east side in the Lloyd Meadows area. Crews are focused on firing operations from containment lines to the active fire perimeter on the southwest flank; firing operations are also planned for the Kern Creek area if conditions permit. Structure protection is underway in the Soda Flats area and near Jordan Hot Springs, as well as Ponderosa, Lloyd Meadows, Pyles Camp, Camp Whitsett, and other areas on the west side.
Shotgun Fire: Estimated at 402 acres, the Shotgun Fire is slowly burning within a rocky drainage with continued monitoring by aerial resources. Another Forest Service fire fiasco
Weather: Conditions remain stable with a strong high-pressure system continuing to build in the area. Hot temperatures and low relative humidity will persist in the area throughout the Labor Day holiday weekend. Daytime highs will be 70 to 78 degrees at upper elevations and 94 to 97 on the valley floor with relative humidity potentially dropping into the single digits. Winds are expected to remain light in the morning and increasing in the afternoon with potential gusts to 25 mph.
Evacuations and Closures:
An Evacuation Order is active for the following communities: Cedar Slope, Ponderosa, and Pyles Boys Camp.
An Evacuation Advisory is in place for the following communities: Camp Nelson, Rodgers Camp, Coy Flat, and Mountain Aire.
Many roads and campgrounds are closed in the vicinity of the fire. Be sure to check conditions if traveling in this directions. Another Forest Service fire fiasco
The Moraine Fire was discovered August 21 after substantial lightning occurred over the area. It is located in the backcountry along the joint boundary of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, east of Cedar Grove, and as of Thursday, September 3, had grown to 290 acres. The fire is creeping and smoldering with some group tree torching through large dead and down ground fuels and continuing to burn in areas with standing dead trees (of which there are millions throughout the parks). The park is using a confine and contain suppression strategy utilizing natural rock features, existing trails, and other natural barriers as containment lines. This limits exposure to firefighters and minimizes impacts in the wilderness. Another Forest Service fire fiasco
Smoke will be visible from high country vistas and in the local area of the fire. All trails in the area remain open.
The Rattlesnake Fire was discovered August 16 and was caused by lightning. As of Thursday, September 3, the fire was estimated to be at 156 acres. It is located in the Rattlesnake Creek drainage, east of Franklin Pass in the backcountry of Sequoia National Park. The fire is burning in an area of steep inaccessible terrain with sparse ground fuels with pockets of large dead and down trees. The Park Service is using a confine and contain suppression strategy utilizing natural rock features, existing trails, and other natural barriers as containment lines. This limits exposure to firefighters and minimizes impacts in the wilderness.
All trails in the area remain open. Backpackers are reminded to use caution and follow all posted trail signs.