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Fire at a glance (numbers)

  • Incident Name: SQF Complex
  • State: CA
  • Lead Agency: SQF
  • Size (acres): 141,600
  • Percent Contained: 33%
  • Estimate of Containment: September 30, 2020
  • Personnel: 1,422
  • Structures Destroyed: 184

SQF Complex (2 fires), Sequoia NF, USFS. IMT 1 (NR Team 1) and IMT 1 (Cal Fire Team 6). Thirty-three miles east of Porterville, CA. Timber and chaparral. Active fire behavior with running, group torching and shortrange spotting. Numerous structures threatened. Evacuations, area, road and trail closures in effect.

September 22, 2020 at 9:10 AM

Containment of the SQF Complex is now 33%, an increase of 15% from yesterday’s report. Increase in structures lost is not primary residences. The increase is to account for structures used for a variety of purposes other than dwelling. The Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1 will transfer command of the East Castle Zone and Shotgun Fire to California Team 2 at 7 AM on September 23, 2020. “The incoming incident commander, Mike Minton, is familiar with the Sequoia National Forest, and knows some of the local agency administrators,” said Mike Goicoechea. “I am confident that this transfer will in no way have a negative effect on the ground firefighting efforts. I have full confidence that the new team will continue to protect communities and add additional containment lines to the fire.”

The SQF Complex is currently under Unified Command between the United States Forest Service, Sequoia National Park, Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1, and CAL FIRE Team 6. Northern Rockies Team 1 is in command of the East Castle Zone (until 7 AM on September 23) and CAL FIRE Team 6 is in command of the West Castle Zone.

SQF COMPLEX-ALL ZONES: The Castle Fire is 140,766 acres and the Shotgun Fire is 834 acres for a total of 141,600 acres.

East Castle Zone SQF Complex – Castle Fire: For over a week, all efforts of firefighters have been focused on the defensive tactic of providing structure protection. Yesterday, crews were able to focus efforts on containment and line construction near the fire’s perimeter.

Today, work continues in the area near Ponderosa with the construction and improvement of line to buffer the community from threat of a fire front or spotting fire. Indirect line construction will continue south of Pierpoint towards a rocky outcrop that will serve as anchor. In Camp Nelson, firefighters will hotspot to eliminate threats from latent heat sources. Around the Tule Indian Reservation, crews will look to widen and improve the line along the ridge.

Where the fire front has already passed, crews will continue their patrol of Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest, Cedar Slope, and points in-between as residual heat sources remain a threat.

With no movement on portions of the southern and eastern flanks of the fire, containment has increased to 33%. Fire perimeters will continue to be monitored by air resources. On the northeast point, the fire continues backing to the west and is now one mile from Sequoia National Park. Backcountry structure protection groups remain ready to respond in the Casa Vieja Meadows area. Direct line construction will continue in the Little Horse Meadows area.

Air resources have played an integral part of daily firefighting operations on the Sequoia Complex. Since the Northern Rockies Incident Management Team has managed the fire on September 3, there have been a total of 1,670 hours of flying time. During this time, 1.4 million gallons of water and 1.5 million gallons of retardant have been dropped on the fire. Eighty-eight thousand pounds of cargo has also been hauled to support fire operations.

East Castle Zone SQF Complex – Shotgun Fire: Minimal growth on the fire continues; the fire is currently 834 acres.

Weather: Slightly cooler temperatures will be over the fire area with highs between 75-82 degrees. Relative humidity levels will increase to around 16%. Winds will gust on the ridgetops out of the west. The next few days will bring little weather change, with no rain in the forecast. It is now day 109 since the fire area received over a tenth of an inch of rain.

September 20, 2020 at 11:51 AM

community meeting will be held tonight at 4 PM for both zones of the Sequoia Complex (#SQFComplex). The meeting will be held via Facebook Live on the Sequoia National Forest’s Facebook page. Questions may be submitted in advance to the East Zone (sqfcomplex2020@gmail.com) and to the West Zone (westcastlezone@gmail.com).

The Sequoia Complex is under the Unified Command between the United States Forest Service, Sequoia National Park, Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1, and CAL FIRE Team 6. The Northern Rockies Team 1 is in command of the East Castle Zone and CAL FIRE Team 6 is in command of the West Castle Zone. Both teams are managing the Sequoia Complex as a Team of One.

The number of structures lost, 150, has not increased since September 16. Firefighters continue to patrol communities where the fire front has passed through, as well as the 1,000 structures in Ponderosa, Camp Nelson, Coy Flat, and Pierpoint that remain under threat.

“We have been through a week of providing structure protection through the day and through the night in area communities,” said Mike Goicoechea, Incident Commander. “Through all of that, we have had no injuries, and we are actively saving homes.  I am proud of the hard, safe work our firefighters are putting in to protect these area homes, it is a difficult battle.”

SQF COMPLEX-ALL ZONES:  The Castle Fire is 134,970 acres and the Shotgun Fire is 832 acres for a total of 135,802 acres. The containment on the complex has increased to 14%.

East Castle Zone SQF Complex – Castle Fire:  Yesterday, the fire spotted over to the east side of the Kern River. The spot was contained at less than one acre and will be patrolled today. Fire crews continue to remain fully engaged in point protection for local communities. As threats to structures decrease, perimeter control of the fire will again be a priority.

Burnout operations around Ponderosa continued in small blocks to increase the line of defensible space. In the areas of Camp Nelson, Coy Flat, and Pierpoint, there has not been a lot of recent fire movement. Crews are working along the Coy Flat Road to tie direct line into a rocky outcrop. This line will allow crews extra time to prep structures in the Mountain Aire and Rodgers Camp areas. Aerial resources continue to be used in and around communities with both water and retardant drops.

Containment increased to 14% as a large portion of the eastern flank, including portions in the Inyo National Forest, has not seen active fire for several days. As personnel become more confident that containment lines are secure, containment on the fire will increase. Direct line construction on the unsecured eastern edge is still being completed around Little Horse Meadows. At the Kern Canyon Ranger Station, local personnel remain ready to provide structure protection.

Both zones of the Sequoia Complex are working on a plan to construct indirect line along the Tule Indian Reservation. Heavy equipment is in the area and will be used to construct a containment line along the ridge.

East Castle Zone SQF Complex – Shotgun Fire:  The fire is approximately one mile south of the Sequoia National Park and is currently 832 acres. 

A record was set yesterday for number of personnel assigned to active incidents in the nation. According to the National Interagency Fire Coordination Center, 32,727 personnel are actively deployed on incidents.

Weather: Temperatures will be slightly warmer, with highs ranging from 75 to 83 degrees.  Relative humidity levels will be down five percent today with levels in the mid-teens. Winds will be northeasterly in the morning, shifting to the southwest in the afternoon with sustained speeds under 10 mph.  

September 18, 2020 at 10:33 AM

The entire complex is a total of 128,902 acres and contains the Castle Fire (128,072 acres) and the Shotgun Fire (830 acres). The complex is currently 12% contained.

East Castle Zone SQF Complex – Castle Fire: Yesterday, winds out of the southwest challenged firefighters working in local communities, throwing embers and creating spot fires throughout the day. At the start of shift, active fire and spotting began in Camp Nelson. Fire activity picked up shortly after in the Coy Flat and Pierpoint areas. Work in Ponderosa continues to be busy, but successful, with no homes currently lost.

Helicopters continue to assist in the air as crews battle the fire on the ground. To date, a total of 1.3 million gallons of water and retardant have been used to protect communities. Due to terrain and fuel loading, firefighters are often working close to structures, at times, literally from patios and decks.

Residual heat and embers may cause threats to structures after the fire front has passed. Crews continue to patrol communities where fire has already passed through and actively implement structure protection as needed. While on patrol yesterday in the Sequoia Crest area, crews were alerted to a home affected by residual heat and embers and implemented structure protection measures to save the home.

Today, Point protection will continue in all communities and is the top priority. Firefighters are working through the day and night, providing structure protection and creating defensible space. Shifting winds today from the southwest to west will be a change that will challenge current firelines. Firefighter and public safety are our number one priority and strategies will be implemented to protect life safety.

Fire crews will continue to mop up the area near Lion Meadows and react to any spot fires created by Friday’s western winds. Although fire activity has been minimal, backcountry crews remain ready on the Inyo National Forest. Personnel from Sequoia National Park remain at the Kern Canyon Ranger Station to provide structure protection if needed.

East Castle Zone SQF Complex – Shotgun Fire: The fire is approximately one mile south of the Sequoia National Park and is currently 830 acres.

Weather: Mostly cloudy skies will prevail over the fire area on Friday with gusty winds out of the west-southwest. Relative humidity levels will increase from previous days ranging from the upper teens to the upper 20s. Clearer skies are expected in the area on Saturday, along with cooler temperatures.

September 18, 2020 at 7:15 AM

The western flank continues to be the top priority and is still exhibiting active fire behavior. With a break in the weather, fire crews have been able to effectively put in and strengthen control lines along the fire’s edge where possible. The fire has crossed 190 near Cedar Slope in multiple areas. Through the night, firefighters have been working to improve and strengthen contingency lines in the area for possible firing operation in multiple divisions. The Dennison Mountain did have some active fire behavior above the 5,000 ft level yesterday. Crews are preparing for the fire’s likely movement towards Ponderosa, Tule Indian Reservation, and north into the Sequoia Kings National Park. Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park are both closed, and Inyo National Forest, Case Mountain Extensive Recreation Management area. Damage inspections team’s area in the area continue to assess the areas affected.

September 16, 2020 at 9:53 AM

On September 14, Northern Rockies Team 1 joined forces with CAL FIRE Team 6 in Unified Command. Yesterday, September 15, Sequoia National Park also became an integral part of the Unified Command structure. Although the fire perimeter will be divided into a West Zone and an East Zone we come together as ONE Team to share resources and implement strategies to protect life safety and values at risk.

Today at 7:00 a.m., CAL FIRE Team 6 took command of the West Zone of the Castle Fire.

EAST CASTLE ZONE SQF COMPLEX: Acreages are 113,498 acres for the Castle Fire and 822 acres for Shotgun fire, for a total of 114,320 acres. The complex is currently 12% contained.

Castle Fire: The priority for the Castle fire is the continued firefighting effort around communities that are on the southwestern area of the fire. On Tuesday, the fire aligned itself to go towards Ponderosa from both northeast and northwest. Firefighting efforts continued through the night, providing structure protection. A burnout operation to create a black buffer from the progressing fire is currently being completed around the community of Ponderosa. Actions will be implemented to 190.

The fire also aligned with fuels south of 190 and will continue to impact Camp Nelson through today. Air resources continue to be used heavily in the area. On Tuesday alone, 100,000 gallons of retardant were used from the mobile retardant base at Camp Nelson. The CAL FIRE team worked on the northwest corner of the fire, near the Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest.

In Sequoia National Park, crews have completed structure protection work on the Kern Canyon Ranger station. On the east side of the fire, crews continue to construct direct fireline as the fire progresses towards Beach Meadows and will continue to work around the point of the fire finger.

The SQF Complex is the top priority fire in southern California. Nationally, over 31,000 personnel are engaged in the nation’s wildland firefighting efforts.

Shotgun Fire: The fire continues to exhibit low intensity surface fire and is currently 822 acres.

Weather: Relative humidity levels will be extremely low which will result in fire behavior early today and through the night. An upper trough will approach the California coast on Wednesday, as this system approaches, the ridge winds will become more southwesterly through the day. Thursday’s weather will bring slightly cooler temperatures and a slight chance for a shower. Winds will become gusty out of the west-southwest on Friday.

September 13, 2020 at 10:04 AM

Four structures burned in the Golden Trout Pack Station area during Saturday’s fire activity. This will be reflected in tomorrow’s Incident Statistics as they are updated through official channels. At the time of this update, no additional structures have burned during the active burning overnight and this morning.

The Northern Rockies Incident Management Team 1 has been extended and will continue to manage the Sequoia Complex through September 22.

Castle Fire: Active fire behavior began early on Saturday as crews reported the fire was pushing up the ridge on the northwest corner. Ridge level winds from the east pushed the fire towards the west all day, bumping the fireline and causing spot fires in the Alder Creek drainage outside of containment lines. Firing actions took place off of containment lines in Freeman Creek Grove and Jordan Peak Road to slow fire progression. Structural engines supported firing operations with water throughout the day and overnight to protect values at risk.

“I could not be prouder of the work that our crews have put in on this western flank. This country is steep and difficult and taking it one careful piece at a time is going to give us the best chance at protecting local values,” said Shawn Borgen, Operations Trainee.

The fire continues to hold within the southern containment lines, smoke will continue to be monitored. Further southeast, crews continue to make good progress constructing direct handline on the point of the fire that pushed out towards Beach Meadows. North of the finger, between Little Horse Meadows and Osa Meadows, fuels are not conducive to carrying fire. This area will continue to be monitored by air. Structural assessment and preparation continue in Long Canyon, Casa Vieja, and Monache Meadows. Within Sequoia National Park, a ten-person fire module will continue work prepping the Kern Canyon Ranger Station and affiliated buildings. This work is anticipated to continue through the next couple of operational shifts.

The fire moved actively west and southwest through the night. Firefighters continue to implement structure protection actions to protect values at risk. Firefighter and public safety is the number one priority in efforts to suppress the fire and actions will be adjusted as needed to maintain life safety. Reconnaissance flights are being flown this morning to assess where the fire is currently established. Extreme fire weather is forecast for Sunday, and the fire continues to actively burn.

Ground resources have been supported by aerial resources and to date on the Castle Fire a total of 1.2 million gallons of water and 560,000 gallons of retardant have been dropped. Air resources have also transported a total of 65,000 pounds of cargo.

Shotgun Fire: Fire intensity has increased with east winds; the fire is now 638 acres.

Weather: Mainly clear skies will be over the fire area on Sunday with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s in upper elevations and in the lower 90s in lower elevations. Relative humidity levels will fall into the lower teens and upper single digits once again today.

Smoke: Smoke may begin to shade the fire again starting Monday, and especially on Tuesday as the upper flow becomes more southwesterly to westerly. For current air quality, visit: https://fire.airnow.gov/.

September 12, 2020 at 10:22 AM

A Haines Index of 6 is predicted for today. This means that there is instability in the atmosphere and a high potential for the fire to exhibit erratic fire behavior. Active fire behavior is expected today.

Sequoia (#SQF) Complex: Because an infrared flight was not flown last night due to mechanical issues, updated acreages are not available. Acreages remain 67,516 acres for the Castle Fire and 577 acres for Shotgun fire, with 68,093 total acres. Civilians evacuated: 1,433

Castle Fire: On Friday, the western flank of the fire was presented with challenging weather conditions, with ridge level winds coming in from the east, pushing the fire west. At approximately a mile and a half north of White Meadow, the fire became active and spotted over the containment line. A smoke column was visible in this area. Hotshot crews, structural firefighting engines, and heavy helicopters worked aggressively to catch spot fires and secure the line. By the evening, winds shifted back in firefighter’s favor. This western edge continues to be a challenging piece for fire crews. Due to its complexity, terrain, values at risk, and safety of firefighters and the public, fire managers are slowly implementing strategies that have a high probability of success. Incident Commander Mike Goicoechea, encouraged firefighters by reminding us all that, “this is a marathon, not a sprint.”

On the eastern side of the fire that pushes out towards Beach Meadows, hand crews and dozers continue to construct line on the south side of the fire finger. Crews are going direct and will eventually bring their work around the tip. Further east, crews continue to assess structures within Long Canyon and Monache Meadows. A firefighter module of ten people was inserted on the northern point of the fire in Sequoia National Park. These firefighters will work to provide structure protection around Kern Canyon.

Today, crews will continue work with the prioritization of their efforts being on the critical western edge. If feasible, crews may use firing operations to strengthen existing containment lines, however any burning will have to be carefully planned given the potential for erratic and shifting winds. Later this afternoon, upslope winds will develop and there will be an opportunity to be able to complete containment line at a higher pace on the western edge. The structural group remains an integral part of this entire operation and has been busy preparing roads, transporting firefighters and water, as well as becoming familiar with all area communities at risk.

Shotgun Fire: The fire remains at 577 acres and continues to exhibit low intensity surface fire in sparse fuel.

Weather: Today’s weather will be several degrees warmer (84 to 90 degrees) and relative humidity percentage levels (8 to 13%) will be lower, bringing increased instability to the fire area. East to southeast winds will remain aloft on the ridges today, with upslope winds developing in the late afternoon.

September 11, 2020 at 10:44 AM

The 68,093 acre complex includes the 67,516 acre Castle Fire and the 577 acre Shotgun fire.

Castle Fire: On Thursday, crews began the first full day of actively constructing the indirect line that will be critical to secure the western edge of the fire. Anchor points are being established on the northern and southern points of this edge with the primary mission of protecting local communities. Fire retardant was used to bolster fire containment lines in this area. Containment line on the ground was established from Mountaineer Creek near the 2017 Lion Fire scar south towards Golden Trout Pack Station, where firing operations began later in the afternoon. In the Freeman Creek Grove, low intensity fire continues to move through the area. Further south on the western edge, crews and heavy equipment worked to piece together line east of Quaker Meadow towards The Needles.

Firefighters were able to build direct line between Little Horse Meadows and Lion Meadows, on the south side of the eastern finger of fire. On the northernmost point of the fire, an aerial assessment was completed between the Sequoia National Park and the Inyo National Forest. There has been little growth of the fire in the Inyo National Forest in the past several days. Structure assessment continued in Long Canyon. Aerial reconnaissance was completed on all areas of the fire that have shown containment to ensure that lines are holding.

Today, crews plan to methodically use hand ignition and aerial firing operations to create a low intensity fire in the northwest corner. Once completed, this operation will produce a solid anchor for firefighters. This indirect fire line will proceed south to Log Cabin Meadow. Firefighters will work from Freeman Creek Grove south and east towards 22S82. Structure protection crews continue to provide support to indirect line construction as well as providing structure protection in Alpine Village and Camp Nelson.

If conditions warrant, firing may occur today along the south side of the fire finger between Little Horse Meadows and Lion Meadows. As the “box” around this finger shrinks, firefighters will have the opportunity to construct more direct fireline. Backcountry structure protection continues in Long Canyon. A fire module of ten people will be inserted on the north point of the fire, near Sequoia National Park. They will begin a planned two day operation of providing structure protection, including to the Kern River Station.

Shotgun Fire: The fire is 577 acres and continues to exhibit low intensity surface fire in sparse fuel. The fire will continue to be monitored by air and resources will be sent for protection of the Quinn Patrol Cabin if necessary.

Weather: Upper level high pressure ridging and diurnally driven winds will prevail across the fire area on Friday. Warming temperatures will also return through the weekend with clear skies and temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

Smoke: The Kern River Valley is receiving smoke from multiple wildfires in southern California and is anticipated to remain through the day. For more information on current air quality, visit: https://fire.airnow.gov/.
Structures: It was discovered that one structure was lost, the USFS cabin at Grey Meadow was destroyed by the fire.

September 8, 2020 at 10:55 AM

Castle Fire: On Monday afternoon, northwest winds pushed active fire on the eastern flank of the fire towards Little Horse Meadows. Structure protection groups remained ready through the night at Beach Meadows. Along the southern edge, fire was held along the Kern River towards Lion Meadows. Due to the fire being pushed on the southeast corner, direct firefighting tactics on the ground and retardant from air resources were used in this area. On the western flank of the fire, operations personnel began the work of scouting the fire’s edge that reached into Freeman Grove. A new fire start in Pierpoint diverted five fire engines. The fire was 100% contained at 1/10th of an acre. 

Today: Scouting on the western flank will continue to access how far the fire has progressed into the Freeman Grove area and form a tactical plan for successful firefighting activity. Direct fireline in this area is not possible due to steep, rugged terrain and the risk of firefighters’ safety. Personnel are working to assess how to tie indirect fire containment lines together from the north and south on the western edge of the fire. The western edge of the fire remains the highest priority for the incident management team due to the values at risk in nearby communities.

The southeast side of the fire will be tested with winds continuing from the northwest bringing the potential of spotting. Backcountry structure protection groups on the east side in the Inyo National Forest will continue their work with fuels mitigation to protect area values at risk, including structures. On the northeast flank, resources will work to limit impacts to local resources within the Golden Trout Wilderness area.

Shotgun Fire: Continues to hold at 498 acres, slowly burning in a rocky drainage and being monitored by aircraft.

Weather: Weather conditions today will be slightly more favorable for firefighters with temperatures 7-9 degrees cooler and relative humidity levels up 2-3%.  Morning winds in the drainages will become south to southwest in the early afternoon with speeds gusting to 14 miles per hour. Winds will continue to be heavily impacted by local terrain and shading from the Creek Fire smoke.

Smoke: Northwest winds on Tuesday will allow smoke from the Creek Fire to shade the Sequoia Complex. In the afternoon, as winds become more westerly, the Creek Fire smoke could shift north of the Sequoia Complex area. 

September 7, 2020 at 10:58 AM

Additional community evacuations were issued yesterday, September 6, 2020 for the communities of Camp Nelson, Coy Flat, Mountain Air, Pier Point and points between. Evacuation orders remain in effect for Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest, Redwood Drive, Ponderosa, Cedar Slope, Pyles Boys Camp, and points between. An evacuation warning is in place for Doyle Springs.

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The Infrared flight was unable to be flown last night due to mechanical issues. Updated acreage, containment and maps will be shared when available. The Castle Fire is mapped at 55,523 acres, including 11,022 acres within the Inyo National Forest boundary, and the remainder on the Sequoia National Forest. 

Sequoia (#SQF) Complex: The complex includes the Castle and Shotgun fires.

Castle Fire: On Sunday afternoon, the western edge of the fire experienced dynamic growth, reaching the edge of Freeman Grove. Additional firefighting resources were shifted to the area to bolster efforts. By 1 PM, the fire was experiencing short runs and spotting, resulting in crews being pulled off of the line at 2 PM. Evacuations of local communities were ordered due to imminent threat. By 4 PM, firefighters were able to reengage in defensive tactics in the effort to stop the fire spread south towards Lloyd Meadow. Crews worked into the night, constructing direct line.

Today, firefighters will be scouting the size and intensity of the slop over into Freeman Grove. They will look for opportunities to go direct, unless the fire activity necessitates using indirect tactics. Resources will be positioned in an effort to protect local values at risk, including structures and natural resources to the greatest extent possible. Local forest resources have been invaluable, helping to guide the team with their knowledge of old burn scars, dozer lines and roads that can be used in firefighting tactics.

On the northeast flank of the fire, firefighters are working to limit impacts to values at risk within the Golden Trout Wilderness and to limit spread on the eastern edge of the fire. Further south, resources west of Little Horse Meadows established primary and secondary lines with handline and equipment. East of Ponderosa, firefighters made a lot of ground, putting direct line into Lion Meadows Road. Today, fire crews will work to secure fire edge from the east side of the Kern River to the east utilizing direct and indirect tactics. Crews will initiate firing operations as needed.

Shotgun Fire: Estimated at 438 acres, the fire is slowly burning in a rocky drainage and is monitored by aircraft.

Weather: Monday’s weather is expected to be hot, dry, and breezy, consistent with the previous few days. Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-80s at higher elevations to lower 100s on the valley floors. The minimum relative humidity will continue to drop into the teens and possibly the upper single digits today. Tuesday’s weather calls for a chance of slightly cooler temperatures with only a slight bump in relative humidity.  Wednesday and beyond the forecast calls for some additional cooling, but also a return to a more typical shifting wind pattern.

Smoke: Smoke will be heavy throughout the area today, and may not lift the whole day. As winds shift from the Northwest, the Kern River Valley will be impacted with smoke from the Creek Fire, as well as the Sequoia (SQF) Complex.

Evacuations and Closures:

  • The Tulare County Sheriff issued an Evacuation Order yesterday, 9/6/20 for Camp Nelson, Coy Flat, Mountain Aire and Pier Point.
  • Previous Evacuation Orders remain in effect for Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest and Redwood Drive (issued 9/4/20) as well as for Ponderosa, Cedar Slope, Pyles Camp, and points between (8/28/20).
  • An Evacuation Warning is in place for Doyle Springs.  
  • For the latest in evacuation centers, visit Redcross.org
  • Tulare County residents are encouraged to sign up for emergency notifications at alerttc.com
  • The road closure for SR190 has been expanded and is closed from 16.2 miles east of Porterville (at Rancho Rio Vista Road) to Quaking Aspen Campground.
  • Roads closure points into these areas – Hwy 190 & the County Transfer Station – M107 and Mountain Road 50 – Johnsondale Bridge & Sherman Pass. These points are closed to all traffic into the area.
  • Campgrounds closed: Belknap, Coy Flat, Dome Rock, Lower Peppermint, Upper Peppermint, & Quaking Aspen 
  • Sequoia National Forest issued Order No. 0513-20-31 SQF Complex Fire Area Road and Trails Closure on 8/26/2020.
  • Inyo National Forest issued Order No. 05-04-21-20-17 Inyo National Forest Castle Fire Trail, Road, and Area Closure on 9/3/20 which expands the closure area of the Golden Trout Wilderness and Monache Meadows. The original closure areas continue as specified in Order No. 05-04-51-20-16. These closures are for firefighter and public safety.
  • Temporary Flight Restriction has been issued for the airspace around the fire complex. Drones are also prohibited.

Priorities include: Ponderosa, Cedar Slope, Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest, Redwood Drive, facilities within Trout Meadow, structures along the Lloyd Meadows Road, Pyles Boys Camp,  grazing cattle west of North Road, Freeman Creek Grove and other Sequoia groves, the President George H.W. Bush Tree, Camp Whitsett, archeological values, Peppermint Fire Station,  Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog and Little Kern Golden Trout Critical Habitats, Pacific Fisher habitats.

September 6, 2020 at 5:43 PM

The fire has slopped into the Freeman Grove and the area is experiencing dynamic fire activity. An evacuation orders have been issued for Camp Nelson, Coy Flat, Mountain Aire and Pier Point. Operations personnel are looking for opportunities to stop the fire’s progression.

September 6, 2020 at 12:46 PM

Castle Fire: Containment moved from 1% to 7% as firefighters mopped up along the southwest perimeter of the fire in the vicinity of Lloyd Flat. Yesterday afternoon, a large smoke column rose from the western side of the fire as it aggressively pushed to the west along Clicks Creek. Crews were able to burn off control lines and kept the fire from crossing those lines. Aircraft applied retardant in that area keeping the fire in check while supporting ground crews. Today, additional resources will be moved to the western side of the fire to assist in attacking the fire. The western edge of the fire is approximately 4-5 miles east of Sequoia Crest.

Crews continue to mop-up along the southwestern perimeter of the fire. Crews are constructing direct fireline and using old firelines on the northeast side of the fire in the Inyo National Forest to implement point protection to protect critical values at risk.  Firefighters are building direct fireline where possible and using heavy equipment and chippers to build contingency lines on the southeastern side of the fire where the fire continues to move towards Little Horse and Osa Meadows. Structure assessment and protection continues for communities impacted by the fire, including Soda Flat, Jordan Hot Springs, and Casa Vieja Meadow, Cedar Slope, Ponderosa, Camp Nelson and Monache Meadows.

Acreage remains the same today, due to no infrared flight last night. The Castle Fire is mapped at 55,523 acres, including 11,022 acres within the Inyo National Forest boundary, and the remainder on the Sequoia National Forest. 

Shotgun Fire: Estimated at 438 acres, the fire is slowly burning in a rocky drainage and is monitored by aircraft.

Weather: Sunday’s temperatures will be in the upper 80s at the higher elevations to 105 on the valley floor. Minimum relative humidity will be in the teens or single digits. Sunday’s winds will be from the south or southeast in the morning, from the west or southwest around noon and from the northwest in late afternoon.

Smoke: Air quality will be impaired throughout the Outlook area today. Unhealthy or worse levels are present this morning in Owens Valley, the Kern River drainage, and Sequoia National Park. Shifting winds will also bring smoke from the SQF Complex and the Creek Fire to the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra foothills.

September 2, 2020 at 10:05 AM

Castle Fire: The perimeter of the Castle Fire remains active, now encompassing 42,200 acres. Two Hotshot Crews have been deployed to Division X on the southeast side of the fire. They are working to contain fire spread east of the Kern River. A full suppression strategy is continuing, using hand crews and bulldozers to extend the containment lines, with assistance from aircraft. Fire engines from multiple agencies, including Tulare County Fire Department, are being employed to assist with structure protection. The fire has burned approximately 37,200 acres on the Sequoia National Forest and approximately 5,000 acres on the Inyo National Forest near Soda Flats, toward Chinquapin Basin, and along Kern Ridge.

Shotgun Fire: The Shotgun Fire, located where Pistol Creek and Shotgun Creek converge in the Golden Trout Wilderness, has now burned 374 acres. The fire is slowly progressing through the drainage amidst rough rocky terrain; air resources continues to monitor growth and behavior.

The SQF Complex, encompassing the Castle and Shotgun fires, has burned 42,574 acres and is 1% contained with dozer line on the southwest side of the Castle Fire in the vicinity of Lloyd Meadows. Due to continued fire growth and the increase in management complexity, the management of the fire will transition from the (Type 2) California Fire Incident Management Team 12 to the (Type 1) Northern Rockies Incident Management Team on Thursday, September 3 at 6:00 am. Currently, 598 personnel are assigned; with the transition, additional resources are expected to arrive.

Evacuation Notice: The Evacuation Order placed August 28, 2020 by Tulare County Sheriff’s Office is still active for the following communities: Cedar Slope, Ponderosa, and Pyles Boys Camp. The Evacuation Advisory is still in place for the following communities: Camp Nelson, Rodgers Camp, Coy Flat and Mountain Aire. The evacuation order and advisory evacuation affect 242 structures. The Red Cross set up a temporary evacuation point at Porterville College Stadium Gate 2. Roads are closed at Johnsondale Bridge and Sherman Pass, Hwy 190, and the County Transfer Station, as well as M107 and Mountain Road 50.

Closures: The Sequoia National Forest has issued Order No. 0513-20-31 SQF Complex Fire Area Road and Trails Closure. The Inyo National Forest has issued Order No. 05-04-51-20-16 Inyo National Forest Castle Fire Trail and Area Closure, for the protection of the public and firefighters suppressing the fire. These closures are being enforced.

Priorities include: Ponderosa, Cedar Slope, Forks of the Kern Trailhead; Jerkey Meadows Trailhead; Facilities and Trails within Trout Meadow; structures and facilities along the Lloyd Meadows Road; Pyles Boys Camp; grazing cattle west of north road; the Freeman Creek Grove and other Sequoia tree Groves; the President George H.W. Bush Tree; Camp Whitsett, featuring numerous Native American archeological values; Peppermint Fire Station; the Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog and Little Kern Golden Trout Critical Habitats; Pacific Fisher habitats.

Weather: A high pressure system continues to strengthen over the area, creating persistent hot and dry conditions, with high temperatures expected to reach into the 90s below 5,000 feet in elevation. With the stable weather conditions, smoke is expected to remain in the valley throughout the day, decreasing visibility and slightly increasing relative humidity below the inversion layer. Relative humidity remains extremely low, enhancing the potential for increasing fire activity. Light drainage winds are expected early in the day, shifting to south/southeast later in the morning at 4 to 9 miles per hour with gusts to 15 mph. Winds will continue to be heavily impacted by local terrain.

Smoke Impact: Stable air conditions will keep smoke in the valleys for the next several days. Kern River Valley remains adversely impacted by Unhealthy to Hazardous air quality. Most areas are expected to improve to Moderate during at least a few hours each day. Please note the following tips to protect yourself from unhealthy air quality. Stay inside during the worst air quality and try to plan your outside time for late afternoon until midnight when the air is normally cleaner. Also attaching a filter to a box fan is a low-cost portable solution; for example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vJk5BM8xUo

Special notes: Fire managers will employ tactics that safely engage fire while prioritizing firefighter and public safety and protecting values at risk. Life safety will always remain the number one priority. COVID-19 mitigations are being taken to limit exposure risks to firefighters and the public, per CDC guidelines.