The second and third largest fires in California history — both of which are located in the San Francisco Bay Area — are expected to grow in the coming days as a new thunderstorms will arrive in California, likely bringing with it dry lightning and winds. The National Weather Service has issued red-flag warnings across Northern and Central California, but the fires have already destroyed hundreds of homes, forced thousands of people to evacuate, and resulted in six deaths.
The year 2020 is shaping up to be a record-breaking fire season. Here are two local fires to keep an eye on: NEW UPDATES: Castle Fire
UPDATE: As of Monday, August 24, the Castle Fire is at 5,000 acres, 0 percent containment, and the communities of Ponderosa and Camp Nelson have received voluntary evacuation orders California Interagency Incident Management Team 12 assumed command of the Castle and Shotgun fires and will provide operational leadership, planning group, logistical support, and communications. NEW UPDATES: Castle Fire
UPDATE: As of Sunday, August 23, the Castle Fire has grown to almost 10 times the size and is 3,800 acres.
The Castle Fire was initially reported Thursday (August 20) as a five-acre, lightning-caused fire that was going to be suppressed. Within a day, it had grown to 400 acres. Six hand crews were unable to stop the spread of the blaze due to steep terrain and windy conditions.
The Castle Fire is located seven air miles northeast of Camp Nelson in southern Tulare County’s Golden Trout Wilderness. It is less than 20 air miles from Three Rivers. Smoke from this fire would get to Three Rivers via the Kaweah River’s South Fork drainage or over Farewell Gap and down the East Fork canyon. The Kaweah canyon has been so inundated with smoke since Wednesday, August 19, from fires throughout California that at this point it would be difficult to discern where the offending smoke is wafting in from.NEW UPDATES: Castle Fire
The Castle Fire’s growth was primarily to the northeast toward the Little Kern River. This fire is burning in extremely rough, inaccessible terrain. Air attack observed fire spreading towards the west, south of Castle Peak (not to be confused with Sequoia National Park’s Castle Rocks). They quickly brought in an air tanker and used retardant drops to keep the fire from spreading off the ridge to the west. Roughly 50 acres burned outside the Wilderness.
Personnel: Currently assigned resources include 6 hand crews, several overhead personnel, and miscellaneous fixed and rotor-wing aircraft. An Incident Management Team has been ordered for the Castle Fire and is expected to arrive over the next few days. NEW UPDATES: Castle Fire
UPDATE: As of Monday, August 24, the Shotgun Fire remains at 200 acres.
UPDATE: As of Sunday, August 23, the Shotgun Fire has grown to 200 acres.
Air personnel working the Castle Fire on Friday, August 21, discovered another lightning-caused fire. This fire is at the confluence of Shotgun and Pistol creeks, also in the canyon of the Little Kern, which is on the immediate south side of Mineral King’s Farewell Gap. The fire is located five air miles south of Farewell Gap. NEW UPDATES: Castle Fire
At the time of the report from the U.S. Forest Service on Saturday, August 22, the fire was three acres in size. It is burning within the perimeter of the 2017 Lion Fire. Any smoke from this fire would come over Farewell Gap and arrive in Three Rivers via the Kaweah’s East Fork canyon.
Personnel: None. According to the USFS, with most fire personnel assigned to other fires throughout California, the Forest is prioritizing firefighting resources to protect life first, then property and infrastructure. The Shotgun Fire will remain unstaffed until resources become available to put it out. NEW UPDATES: Castle Fire
Weather forecast: Hot and dry conditions will persist. There is a chance of thunderstorms in the area.