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Rough Fire

Alicia Embrey / Sequoia National Forest

In 2015 the Rough Fire burned more than 150,000 acres in the mountains east of Fresno. The blaze burned hot and fast threatening Hume Lake Christian Camps in Sequoia National Forest. But while most of the area is starting to recover Boyden Cavern has yet to reopen. But that could soon change.

foothills
Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

California needs as much rain and snow as it can get. So far this year El Nino caused storms have watered the hills of the Sierra Nevada so much this winter that as a result they’re bursting with color earlier in the year than usual.

“If you actually go up and look at those grasses you’ll see that they’re already starting to flower,” says Sequoia National Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott. “So it means that they’re coming at the end of their lifecycle.”

Elliott says even before spring rain ends grass and flowers could turn brown.   

US Forest Service

The lighting sparked Rough Fire burned over 150,000 acres in the Central Sierra Nevada last year. Today most of that area is closed and as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports forest agencies are antsy about reopening.

It’s too early for officials to know when the public will be able to access the area deep in the Sequoia National Forest that burned in the Rough Fire east of Fresno over six months ago. 

Buck Rock Foundation’s Facebook

On July 31st, 2015 the staff of the Buck Rock Fire Lookout in the Sequoia National Forest spotted smoke from a small lightning caused fire near Rough Creek. The blaze would quickly grow in the tinder dry forest, eventually becoming the largest fire recorded in this part of the Sierra, destroying over 151,000 acres. 

USFS

Light rain, cooler temperatures and higher humidity in the last 24 hours have helped firefighters in their effort to contain the Rough Fire. The blaze has now consumed 139,000 acres and is 40 percent contained, though officials expect the containment number to rise later today. 

While the rain has helped the fight, it wasn't been enough to extinguish the fire. It also has forced firefighters to change their tactics, by making it more difficult to intentionally set brush on fire in efforts to contain the main blaze by depriving it of fuel. 

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we are joined by Capital Public Radio's Capital Bureau Chief Ben Adler. He recaps this year's California legislative session. We also hear two stories about the sage grouse on how drought and fire are changing the bird's habitat and numbers.

William Shewbridge, Creative Commons / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

The Rough Fire burning in California’s Sierra Nevada has consumed over 110,000 acres of forest. The blaze is now threatening a treasured grove of ancient trees.

Firefighters in Kings Canyon National Park are clearing the area around the Grant Grove of Giant Sequoia trees as the Rough Fire burns miles away.  Fire official Michael Johnson says while Giant Sequoias typically can endure fire, the state’s drought has stressed the forest.

The smoke from the Rough Fire near Hume Lake has now spread throughout communities in the San Joaquin Valley. As FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, this is causing the Valley’s air pollution to spike to potentially dangerous levels.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District issued a health alert for the rest of the week for several counties including Fresno, Madera and the valley portion of Kern County. They’re recommending people to limit their outdoor activities.

Courtesy of US Forest Service / InciWeb

Update: Thursday September 10th 4:00 PM
The Rough Fire continues to grow today as new mandatory evacuation orders are in place for Grant Grove and the community of Wilsonia in Kings Canyon National Park. The fire has now consumed over 110,000 acres and is just 29 percent contained. The Red Cross has opened an evacuation shelter in Sanger for residents displaced by the blaze. 

Original post: Wednesday September 9th

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

While the Rough Fire has now consumed over 100,000 acres of forest, a valiant effort from firefighters has thus far helped save the community of Hume Lake from the blaze.  FM89's Ezra David Romero takes us to the front lines to hear exactly how that happened. 

On a reporting trip two weeks ago in the Sierra Nevada I was told to evacuate the Hume Lake Christian Camps area as the Rough Fire burned a mile and half away from the camp. Smoke was thick and ash began to fall from the sky.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we start off the program with a segment about the Rough Fire. Mike Pruitt, a spokesman on the Rough Fire, and KVPR's Ezra David Romero join Host Joe Moore to talk about the blaze. We also hear the story of how 25 hikers were smoked out of the backcountry because of the fire. 

Later we hear from KVPR Reporter Diana Aguilera. She brings a story on how Igbo Tribal members from Nigeria in the Fresno region are working to preserve their heritage. 

Courtesy US Forest Service / InciWeb

August 25

The lightning ignited Rough Fire is still only 17 percent contained, even though the burn area has grown to 51,794 acres. There are 1,984 firefighters using 138 engines and 10 helicopters to fight the blaze.  

In an interview Tuesday morning Valley Public Radio's Joe Moore spoke with Rough Fire Spokesman Mike Pruitt about the blaze. Reporter Ezra David Romero also shares about his experience at the fire and shares the story of 25 backpackers who had to hike out of the backcountry. Listen to the interview and story above. 

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition FM89's Ezra David Romero reports on how officials in the Fresno area prepping for possible flooding from a looming El Niño. Meteorologist and Fresno State Lecturer Sean Boyd explains what's conjuring up what could be an answer to California's drought.