CALFIRE mobile retardant base on the Schrock Ranch
By mid-afternoon on Sunday, September 27 a CH47 Billings contract helicopter from Three Rivers was dropping 1,600 gallons of retardant in the Garfield Creek drainage every half hour. The north side of the fire, as it burns into Sequoia National Park, remains on one of the hot spots still burning in the SQF Complex Fire. CALFIRE opens mobile retardant
There was a collective sigh of relief from Three Rivers, at least from those residents below Cinnamon Canyon on South Fork, who were allowed to remain in their homes. The helicopter base in a pasture on the Schrock Ranch, adjacent to the North Fork Bridge, was a sure sign that the north zone of the fire is getting some badly needed airborne resources.
Like the Rough Fire in 2015 (151,623 acres) there were several weeks of some of the worst smoke and air quality ever recorded in the Kaweah Canyon. The current SQF Fire, as of Monday, September 28, at 150,286 acres and 50 percent containment, will smoke out Three Rivers for a while longer. Full containment is expected by October 10 but there will be residual smoke until the season’s first significant rainfall.
But the good news — the establishment of the retardant snorkeling site in Three Rivers means that now more of the attention of the SQF strike force can be focused on the northwest zone of the fire — the part that poses a threat to Three Rivers, Case Mountain, Silver City, and Mineral King.
On opening day for the mobile retardant base, 3RNews caught up with Burke Kremensky, CALFIRE’s Air Operations Branch Director. Kremensky oversees the flight operations for Incident Management Team 6. He said having the lone Billings helicopter is effective but sometime, during the next two days, he hopes to add a couple of the Black Hawks on loan from the California National Guard, and get the line hovering over the retardant tanks moving a little faster.
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