It’s hot. It’s dry. There are thunderstorms. And lots of people touring around.
All of this adds up to an increased chance of fire. And there are some burning that are certain to affect people’s travel plans this holiday weekend.
The Pier Fire, located in the Tule River canyon above Springville in Giant Sequoia National Monument, has grown to over 6,000 acres since Tuesday, Aug. 29. No structures have been damaged, although several communities have been evacuated.
The fire began August 29 at about 2:30 a.m. Air support was initially limited due to smoke hindering visibility in the Tule River canyon, which let the blaze get a head start on fire crews.
The Pier Fire is responsible for the smoky skies over Three Rivers. The fire is located about 25 linear miles south of Three Rivers.
As of Wednesday, Highway 190 was closed between the Balch Park turnoff above Springville and Fox Road along the Western Divide Highway below Ponderosa. Cal Fire’s Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest and Balch Park, a county park that offers camping and recreation amid giant sequoias, are currently closed to the public.
The following communities are under a mandatory evacuation order: Camp Nelson, Pierpoint Springs, Wishon, Doyle Springs, Alpine, Sequoia Crest, and Cedar Slope. Ponderosa was under a voluntary evacuation advisory as of Wednesday, Aug. 30.
An evacuation center has been set up in the Student Conference Center in Porterville. The cause of the fire is under investigation but a vehicle accident is suspected.
The Railroad Fire started Tuesday, Aug. 29, sometime after noon, along Highway 41 near the community of Sugar Pine, south of Yosemite National Park and Fish Camp. It is a vegetation fire burning within the boundaries of Sierra National Forest.
As of Wednesday, mandatory evacuations were in place for the community of Sugar Pine and Sugar Pine Camp with an evacuation advisory for the community of Fish Camp.
There were about 100 structures threatened. The south entrance to Yosemite National Park is inaccessible due to closure of the highway in the vicinity of the fire. As of Wednesday, the fire had consumed 920 acres and was 5 percent contained. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
South Fork Fire
The South Fork Fire started in the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 13. As of Wednesday, it was just 44 percent contained with a total of 6,100 acres burned.
It is burning near the south entrance of Yosemite National Park within the park boundaries. This and a couple other fires in the area are causing some facilities, trails, and roads to close, including the Glacier Point Road.
The Hill Fire was ignited in the Sierra foothills on Sunday, Aug. 27. The cause is under investigation. The location of the fire was Highway 180 (the main access to Kings Canyon National Park) at Highway 63 (Visalia’s access to Highway 180). The fire caused the closures of both highways for a time, ultimately burning about 70 acres before being extinguished by firefighters.
Wilderness lightning fires
Three lightning-caused wildfires are being jointly monitored by Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks and Sequoia National Forest. A fourth wildfire, the Trail Fire, is also being tracked by Sequoia National Forest.
The fires currently pose no threat to life or developed areas. All four fires are located in designated wilderness areas and less than an acre in size.