CALFIRE opens mobile retardant base in Three Rivers

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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5 thoughts on “CALFIRE opens mobile retardant base in Three Rivers

  • September 29, 2020 at 9:03 am
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    Very interesting and informative. Thanks John!

    Reply
  • September 29, 2020 at 9:32 am
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    I know we’re not completely “out of the woods” (npi) yet, but seeing that the fire is at 58% containment this morning is great news.
    Thanks, John and Sarah, for staying with us almost every day of this battle.
    And it was great seeing the Kaweah Commonwealth go “daily”! LOL!!

    Reply
  • September 29, 2020 at 11:55 am
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    ALL OF US AT 3 RIVERS ARE DEEPLY INDEBTED TO YOUR PASSION IN GIVING US WHAT YOU HAVE UNCOVERED ABOUT THE FIRE

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  • September 29, 2020 at 3:30 pm
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    I’m sure that I’m not the only local who is very grateful for this new firefighting effort. Thanks to all involved for working so hard to keep our community safe. As the site is literally in my back yard, I’m grateful for the water truck that is keeping the dirt road dampened, lessening the flying dirt and chaff when the helicopter comes in. THANKS, ALL FIREFIGHTING PERSONNEL AND SUPPORT TEAMS.

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  • October 7, 2020 at 10:59 am
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    Thank you, 3R News for the informative details of the CalFire Mobile Retardant Base at Schrock Ranch. With the helicopter in operation, Burke Kremensky of CalFire Air Operations describes the procedure and components of the process.. From the “behind the scenes” report we appreciate even more the admirable operations of the superb firefighters. I am no longer baffled when watching the helicopter fly overhead,

    Reply

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