With an approaching winter storm from the Pacific Northwest, firefighters are finally gaining control of the deadly and destructive cluster of fires that have been burning in California’s Wine Country and throughout Northern California for the past two weeks.
But it’s the growth of the lightning-caused Lion Fire burning a few miles to the east of the Quinn Patrol Cabin along the joint boundary of Sequoia National Park and Sequoia National Forest that remains a local concern as smoke from this fire has been present daily in the Kaweah canyon.
The fire began as a result of a lightning strike on September 24 near Lion Meadow in the Golden Trout Wilderness and has remained active, burning east toward the Kern River. In the past seven days, the fire has grown more than 6,000 acres to 19,050 acres. As of Wednesday, Oct. 18, the Lion Fire was 75 percent contained and had crossed the Hockett Trail but was still burning west of the Kern River.
If the fire crosses the Kern River, fire activity and smoke impacts will increase, causing a further decline in the area’s air quality. Alicia Embrey, a spokesperson for Sequoia National Forest, said the Lion Fire is being managed as a “full suppression” incident.
Aircraft are being used to minimize fire growth and moderate activity as the fire approaches the Kern River. On Wednesday, Oct. 18, the incident management team was considering digging more fire line along the eastern perimeter of the fire.
For the next several days, west winds are expected to push the smoke aloft toward Owens Valley. Smoky conditions may still be present in Three Rivers, especially in the early morning hours. Light rainfall expected in the region this weekend could help slow the spread of the fire.
There are currently 120 personnel assigned to the fire, down from 221 one week ago. Trail closures remain in effect in the vicinity of the Lion Fire within the Golden Trout Wilderness.
The fire is expected to be fully contained sometime in late November. Daily smoke forecasts are available at www.valleyair.org; Lion Fire updates are available at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5626/.