wildfire

U.S. Forest Service

A wildfire known as ‘The Sky Fire’ burning outside Oakhurst in Madera County has grown to over 500 acres.

The U.S. Forest Service says as of Friday morning that the fire is only 15% contained and likely to grow. Early projections indicate that the fire could grow to as much 600 to 1000 thousand acres.

 The most recent information on the fire is available here.

The brush fire began Thursday after a vehicle caught fire on Sky Ranch Road north of Oakhurst.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Forest managers throughout California say that thinning forests to a more natural state is a good way to reduce the severity of wildfires. Now scientists suggest that it also could offer help in saving water in the drought. 

Researchers at UC Merced think that thinning overgrown forests throughout the Sierra could result in as much as a million acre feet of extra water each year for the state. That’s enough water to fill Pine Flat Lake on the Kings River east of Fresno.

Cal Fire Air Tankers Cleared To Fly After Yosemite Crash

Oct 10, 2014
Twitter.com / CAL FIRE PIO Kevin Berlant / https://twitter.com/CALFIRE_PIO

Cal Fire's fleet of 22 firefighting air tankers are back in service. The planes were on a safety stand down after a tanker crash this week in Yosemite National Park. Ed Joyce reports from Sacramento.

The Tuesday crash killed pilot Geoffrey Hunt as he was about to drop retardant on the Dog Rock Fire near Yosemite's west entrance.

The safety stand-down was intended to give officials time to inspect the remaining aircraft and allow other pilots time to recover.

Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott:

Cal Fire

An air tanker that was battling a wildfire burning near the Arch Rock entrance to Yosemite National Park crashed on Tuesday afternoon. 

Emergency crews reached the wreckage in steep and rugged terrain in the evening and found the solo pilot dead. The name of the pilot is being withheld pending notification of family.

The Grumman S2T was based out of the Hollister Air Attack base. It was operated by Cal Fire and was assisting federal crews in fighting the 130 acre Dog Rock Fire. 

Don L. Weaver / Valley Public Radio

UPDATE: 9/18/2014 - 9 A.M.

Cal Fire officials say the Courtney Fire is 90 percent contained.

UPDATE: 9/18/2014- 7:30 A.M. 

Containment of the Courtney Fire has now risen to 80 percent. As of Wednesday evening, all evacuations have been lifted.

UPDATE: 9/17/2014 - 6 P.M.

Cal Fire reports the Courtney Fire is now 70 percent contained. As of Wednesday evening all evacuations have been lifted. 

National Parks Service

UPDATE: 9/11/14 - 12:10 PM
The Meadow Fire has now consumed 4,906 acres and is 23 percent contained. Officials say that they expect spot fires to flare outside the existing perimeter today due to warmer temperatures and low humidity. The fire is burning on both side of the Merced River in Little Yosemite Valley between Mount Starr King and Half Dome.  Park officials also say that fire conditions have improved enough to reopen the Half Dome cables and the associated trail on Saturday for day-use only.

Madera County Sheriff Dept Facebook

Firefighters are battling a wildfire in Mariposa County on Highway 49 today. The Bridge Fire began on Friday afternoon near the William Sell Bridge between Oakhurst and Mariposa and has burned around 100 acres. Mandatory evacuations are in place for residents in the Ponderosa Basin area near the east fork of the Chowchilla River. A number of structures are threatened by the fire. Highway 49 is closed between Worman Road and Chowchilla Mountain Road.

InciWeb

Firefighters are making progress containing two wildfires that sparked in the San Joaquin Valley on Monday.

The Junction Fire, which led to evacuations of thousands of homes in and around Oakhurst, is now estimated to be 612 acres in size and is currently 40% contained. Nine structures have been destroyed and 2 injuries reported.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

UPDATE: Wednesday August 20th 9:00 AM - Fire crews made good progress on the Junction Fire Tuesday and the blaze is now 40 percent contained. The mandatory evacuation orders for areas west of Highway 41 have been lifted except for Road 620. Areas east of Highway 41 remain closed. Highway 41 to Yosemite is now open.

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Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

A brush fire burning near Oakhurst in the Central Sierra Nevada, named the Junction Fire, has grown to 1,200 acres and prompted authorities to evacuate over 1,500 homes. 

The Madera County Sheriff’s Department declared a local emergency and has issued the mandatory evacuation for all businesses, and residents along the 41 corridor between CA-49 and Road 632, which is also known as Sky Ranch Road.

Erica Stuart, the spokeswoman for the department, says the Red Cross evacuation center is now being moved to Coarsegold.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

 We now know who ignited the Rim Fire that scarred part of the beauty of the Sierra Nevada. But many other questions about the response to the fire still remain. In the second piece for our series on the fire, FM89 reporters Ezra David Romero and Diana Aguilera revisit the fire’s burn area and discover that people in the region are still wondering why the fire got so big.

Three weeks ago Wesley Wills had a flashback. 

“We were driving down Big Oak Flat Road and just saw it blowing up again like flame lengths of over 100 feet,” Wills says.

Mike McMillan / US Forest Service

Nearly one year ago, a small fire near the Tuolumne River just west of Yosemite National Park grew into the largest blaze ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada. By the time the Rim Fire was contained in late October 2013, it had burned over 400 square miles, forever changing lives and the landscape. Today many residents and county officials are still frustrated by the investigation and are searching for answers.

Randy Hanvelt remembers the moment last year when a small wildfire in Tuolumne County a year ago became a raging inferno.

More Than 25 Percent Of California's Firefighting Budget Already Up In Smoke

Aug 2, 2014
Capital Public Radio

Less than a month into the new fiscal year, California has already used up more than a quarter of the money set aside in the state budget for fighting wildfires.

CalFire has spent $47 million since July 1st, out of 209 million for the fiscal year that ends next June.

But H.D. Palmer with the governor’s Department of Finance says if the money runs out, the state will just turn to its budget reserve.

Yosemite National Park

Update: 11 a.m. 7/31/14 - The El Portal fire has grown to 3,900 acres and is still 34 percent contained. According to authorities the evacuation order for Foresta will be lifted at 3:00 p.m. on Friday.   The Big Oak Flat Road (Highway 120) leading into Yosemite Valley has now reopened. 

Update: 11 a.m. 7/30/14 - El Portal fire has grown to over 3,500 acres and is 34 percent contained. From fire authorities: 

Cal Fire

In the late afternoon on Memorial Day, a wildfire touched off in rural Mariposa County.  Just two days later, the so-called Hunters Fire has engulfed 1300 acres and destroyed two homes.

Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, says fires this time of year aren't unusual--but ones that travel so fast are.

Brown Proposing Additional $66 Million to Help Fight Wildfires

May 20, 2014
Sierra National Forest

California’s firefighting agency, Cal Fire, has already responded to about 1,500 fires this year. That’s nearly twice what would be normal. As Katie Orr reports from Sacramento, Governor Jerry Brown wants Cal Fire to have more money to fight the extended wildfire season.

Under Brown’s May budget revision, Cal Fire would receive an additional $66 million. Cal Fire’s Daniel Berlant says the money would allow the department to retain the seasonal firefighters it’s hired, including 300 last month. 

Governor Jerry Brown Says California Wildfires Linked To Climate Change

May 16, 2014
Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown says human-caused climate change is probably the main reason wildfires are scorching large parts of San Diego County at this time of year.

Brown told CNN that climate change is the reason why the California fire season is now 70 days longer than it was in the past. He says high winds and dry conditions make fires larger and more devastating.

Brown:  “Those conditions are definitely caused by climate change, global warming induced by human activity.”

Brown's Revised Budget Would Help State During Drought, Cal Fire

May 13, 2014
Capital Public Radio

Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal contains more money to address complications from the drought in California. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, he wants more money to go to firefighting, food assistance, and wildlife preservation. 

Governor Brown wants to give an additional $142 million to help the state through the drought. The drought has already caused an early fire season. Under the new spending plan, the Division of Forestry and Fire Protection would get $67 million more to suppress wildfires. 

CAL FIRE Fears Fire Season Could Be Worst Ever

May 6, 2014
Twitter.com / CAL FIRE PIO Kevin Berlant / https://twitter.com/CALFIRE_PIO

CAL FIRE says it fears this year's fire season could be the worst on record.  Bob Moffitt reports on the state's preparations.

In Southern California, fire season never really ended.  In Northern California, CAL FIRE started hiring firefighters four months ahead of schedule.

Secretary of Natural Resources John Laird says the state is in the middle of the driest three years on record.

U.S. Forest Service Sequoia National Forest

Historically dry conditions in the Sierra Nevada have resulted in a rare January wildfire burning in a remote area of the Golden Trout Wilderness, about 20 miles east of Springville.

The Soda Fire was discovered on Tuesday by officials with the Sequoia National Forest. So far the fire has consumed around 130 acres, and is burning at a moderate rate. No structures are threatened. 

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