Fighting fire in Sequoia National Park

Video Editing by Ethan Paggi

SQF Complex: Castle Fire update 

In Three Rivers, monitoring the progress of the SQF Complex means being focused on the Castle Fire. The Castle Fire is a part of the largest fire ever in Tulare County, now at 167,625 acres (October 14). It was started two months ago by a lightning strike in the wilderness of Sequoia National Forest and will end eventually in the wilderness of Sequoia National Park. The most active part of the SQF Complex is now in the rugged terrain north and east of Homers Nose. Fighting fire in Sequoia

Homers Nose, at an elevation of 9,022 feet, is a prominent granite dome, and the second highest point after Cahoon Rock (9,278 feet) on the Salt Creek Ridge that divides the South Fork from the East Fork in the Kaweah drainage. In good air quality, Homers Nose is easily visible from Exeter and east Visalia.Fighting fire in Sequoia

Though the fire fight is being waged as a full suppression Type 1 incident, suppressing and containing wildfire in steep terrain like Homers Nose, is always problematic and demands an effective strategy employing aircraft and Hot Shot boots on the ground.Fighting fire in Sequoia

The role of the Mobile Retardant Base (MRB) at the Schrock Ranch in Three Rivers these past several days cannot be underestimated. There won’t be the giant tanker drops of retardant in the national park wilderness but rather well placed helicopter buckets of both retardant and water to slow the fire. 

That’s where the Hot Shot crews come in inserted by helicopter. These highly skilled pilots, with precision drops of 900 to 1,600 gallons of water or retardant, also ensure a safe area where the Hot Shots ignite backfire and build fire line. Three Rivers is fortunate that Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, with the largest budget for fire research in the National Park System, are on the cutting edge of wildfire theory and practice.Fighting fire in Sequoia

To help understand the role of these helicopters and the Three Rivers MRB, we summoned Michael Theune, Fire Information Specialist at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Coming to Sequoia and Kings Canyon in 2015, Theune received his baptism by fire that year working the four-month-long Rough Fire. In January 2021, Theune will receive his credential as a Type 1 public information officer, the highest position he can obtain as a fire information specialist.     

Fighting fire in Sequoia
On Sunday, October 11, this Billings Chinook CH-47 helicopter rejoined the fleet, flying out of the MRB in Three Rivers.

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2 thoughts on “Fighting fire in Sequoia National Park

  • October 14, 2020 at 10:24 am

    Thank you, very informative.

  • October 15, 2020 at 4:12 am

    Thank you; that was very well written.


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