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Fire at a glance (numbers)

  • Incident Name: SQF Complex
  • State: CA
  • Lead Agency: SQF
  • Size (acres): 174,178
  • Percent Contained: 83%
  • Estimate of Containment: November 1, 2020
  • Personnel: 167
  • Structures Destroyed: 228

SQF Complex, Sequoia NF, USFS. IMT 2 (CA Team 13). Thirty-three miles east of Porterville, CA. Timber and chaparral. Minimal fire behavior with smoldering and creeping. Area, road and trail closures in effect.

November 14, 2020 at 10:49 AM

The SQF Complex is slowing down and changing management hands.  On Saturday, California Interagency Incident Management Team 13 (CIIMT13) will transition the fire back to the Sequoia National Forest at 174,178 acres and 80% containment. Incident Commander Mike Wakoski, on behalf of the entire team, would like to extend thanks to everyone in the communities affected by the fire.  Their support and patience have been appreciated by all those involved in helping manage this incident.  Personnel on the Forest will continue to work on suppression repair as weather permits and will patrol and monitor those areas of the fire that still show some heat.  

Yesterday’s weather saw clear skies across the fire with cool temperatures in the morning around 30 to 40 degrees, and afternoon temperatures reaching the mid-40s to low 50s.  Relative humidity’s were about 10 percent higher than Wednesday and winds were light and variable with local gusts to 14 mph over ridges in the afternoon.  This weather pattern is expected to continue through the week with a slight warming trend in the afternoons.  

The transition between CIIMT13 and the Sequoia National Forest is a well-organized process utilized each time an incident management team departs command of a fire.  The team ensures all agreements, equipment and personnel are demobilized properly.  This includes things such as heavy equipment used in suppression repair, helicopters, porta potties, hand washing stations, trailers, hose and other firefighting equipment. Additionally, it necessitates closing of financial documentation, and many other details involved in the buildup of a fire camp.

Forest personnel will have a close-out meeting on Saturday with the team to discuss accomplishments and any challenges that occurred during the team’s tenure.  These close-out meetings can provide feedback for future decision making on local Forest incidents, especially this year with all of the challenges we have seen.   

Concern for flash floods and debris flow is being addressed by Tulare County. During the virtual Community Meeting, a spokesperson for the County Roads Department talked about their planning efforts to keep access available for those living in the mountains above the fire area along Highway 190.  An Interagency Emergency Task Force is working on preparations by establishing trigger points for flash floods and debris flow, and cleaning debris from culverts and drains to minimize impacts. 

October 22, 2020 at 9:53 AM

California Incident Management Team 13 is transitioning with the Eastern Area Gold Team. (EA Gold Team) the EA Gold Team will be assuming command of the fire at 6:00 p.m. this evening. Today, the EA Gold Team is shadowing Team 13 to ensure a smooth transition of command. Fire will continue to be managed for full suppression.

As containment of the fire increases, you can still expect to see smoke rising from within the fire perimeter. The warm and dry weather combined with unusually dry, living and dead, vegetation creates the perfect ingredients for rekindling. This is a common occurrence on large fires and fire crews are aware that smoke may be visible from within the fire perimeter.

The lightning-caused Castle and Shotgun Fires were discovered on August 19, 2020, and later managed as one incident named the SQF Complex. The Castle Fire burned on portions of the Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument (129,000 acres), Inyo National Forest (12,290 acres), Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (16,289 acres), lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (728 acres), State (4037 acres), County, and private lands and threatened the Tule River Indian Reservation. On October 6, 2020 the Shotgun Fire was fully contained and remains at 841 acres.

October 21, 2020 at 8:40 AM

Over the course of the SQF Complex Fire, four separate Incident Management Teams (IMT) will have worked with the USDA Forest Service and Cal Fire in a unified command. The California Interagency Incident Management Team 13 will transfer command to the Eastern Area Gold Team tomorrow. Michael Wakoski, Incident Commander of California Interagency Incident Management Team 13 would like to “thank all the local communities for their patience and understanding over the past few weeks as we managed the SQF Complex Fire. It has been an honor and privilege to help bring this fire closer to full containment”

Earlier this week, Sheriff Boudreaux removed Voluntary Evacuation Warnings from the following areas; Camp Nelson, Pier Point, Mountain Aire, Coy Flat, Doyle Springs, Rogers Camp, Sequoia Crest, Alpine Village, Redwood Drive Area, Balch Park Road, including Blue Ridge Drive and Bear Creek Road area. All remaining warnings in the Three Rivers area are still in place, open to residents only. Crews continue to work and travel in the fire area as operations continue. The general public is asked to not travel into these communities as extra traffic can impact the ability for crews to quickly get in and out of the fire area.

Tulare County Castle Fire impacted property owner information can be found at https://tularecounty.ca.gov/Recovers/ or on the Tulare County Recovers – SQF Complex Facebook page. As residents return to the opened areas, it is extremely important that they remain clear of all Forest closure areas. Activities, such as recreating, wood gathering, and hunting are not allowed within the closure area. The Tulare County Local Assistance Center (LAC) Hotline for affected citizens is 559-802-9790.  A satellite LAC is open in Camp Nelson on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Tulare County has been officially added to the Federal Major Disaster Declaration for Wildfires in California, providing individual assistance programs and resources to those impacted by the SQF Complex Fire. For more information – https://tularecounty.ca.gov/county/

A Forest Closure Order remains in place for a portion of the Sequoia National Forest – https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fseprd825799.pdf  Areas available for recreation include the Hume Lake Ranger District, most of the Kern River Ranger District, and a small area on the Western Divide Ranger District.  Near the fire area, visitors are able to access the Trail of 100 Giants and a portion of the Sherman Pass Road between Mtn. Road 99 and Cherry Hill Road (22S12). Most of the Western Divide Ranger District remains closed along the Forest boundary to the west on Highway 190. Also closed to the north is the Forest area that surrounds Balch Park and Mountain Home State Demonstration Forest, and the Golden Trout Wilderness.  Please refer to details in the Forest Closure Order for accurate information and a map.  

In and around the fire area, hazards continue to be identified that pose a threat to public safety.  The roads and trail systems within the burn area are narrow and hazardous. Additionally, there are numerous natural hazards created by the fire, such as tree snags, staubs, root holes that have been created by roots burning beneath the surface of the soil, etc.  The roads are being used by fire equipment for ongoing suppression, suppression repair, and BAER activities making them unsafe for the public.  Once work is complete, additional areas will reopen to the public.

October 18, 2020 at 10:51 AM

The South Fork area is now open to residents. Mandatory evacuation orders have been lifted. Warnings are still in place for several areas, residents only. See www.facebook.com/Tulare-County-Recovers-SQF-Complex-Fire-118633719998389/ for more information.

Tulare County has been officially added to the Federal Major Disaster Declaration for Wildfires in California, providing individual assistance programs and resources to those impacted by the SQF Complex Fire. For more information – https://tularecounty.ca.gov/county/

October 16, 2020 at 9:36 AM

The Mountain Home and South Fork area saw excellent progress yesterday. Squaw Creek remains a priority. Fixed and rotary wing aircraft were effective in slowing the fires spread around Homers Nose.  Air operations will continue as weather (smoke) conditions allow.  Ongoing operations continue to identify and mitigate potential hazards on access roads and provide structure defense as necessary on the South Fork Community. Tactical firing will continue as necessary and when safe to do so to secure South Fork Rd. to Devils Canyon.

This week warmer weather returns with light winds and decreasing humidity. Fire activity will likely increase due to the warming and drying trend. This trend will likely bring more active fire behavior especially in areas where dry fuels remain.

Structure defensive protection work progresses on Ming and Kern Cabins.  Crews continue mop-up work from existing firelines and evaluating lines of engagement in the area of Sheep Mountain to Homer’s Nose. Mop-up and patrol continue on the southern portion of the fire.

A spike camp, a secondary primitive camp site for a fire crews and supported by the main camp, was set up in the Slick Rock area near Three Rivers and near Cahoon Meadow at the Hockett Ranger Station. An additional spike camp was set up near the Kern cabin.   Establishing spike camps closer to the fire provides for better efficiency of time and resources. 

The communities of Sequoia Crest and Cedar Slope remain a high priority and are being evaluated for repopulation.  Crews and aircraft will continue to monitor these area. 382 customers remain without power.  We have restored power to most of the Camp Nelson area and installed a generator to provide power to the Ponderosa area. Our goal is to have power restored to Mountain Home and Balch Park by Friday, October 16th, dependent on our ability to work safely given air quality challenges

The Regional Emergency Fire Restrictions (Regional Order No. 20-21) remains in place and is extended to Oct. 15.

Giant sequoias can reach ages of up to 3,400 years. Tree ring studies of giant sequoias provide a long record of climate and fire history, helping park managers and scientists better understand relationships of climate, fire, and the giant sequoia life cycle. https:www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/bigtrees.htm

Tulare County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order on October 6 for everything south of the intersection of the Cinnamon Canyon Road and South Fork Drive, including Cinnamon Canyon. As residents return to the opened areas, it is extremely important that they remain clear of all closure areas. Activities, such as wood gathering, and hunting are not allowed within the forest closure. For more information visit: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/post-wildfire/returning-home/South Fork Drive needs to remain available for fire crews and heavy equipment access from Highway 198 to Cinnamon Canyon Road. Please drive with caution.

Mandatory evacuations continue for Alpine Village, Cedar Slope, Pyles Boys Camp, Redwood Drive and Sequoia Crest. Voluntary evacuation warnings for Camp Nelson, Pier Point, Ponderosa, Doyle Springs, (all residents only), Blue Ridge Drive between Balch Park Road and the Gate at Grouse Valley, Bear Creek Road from Rancheria Fire Control Road to the address of 44853 Bear Creek Road, Mineral King, Silver City, Balch Park Road from the intersection of Blue Ridge Drive to Battle Mountain Monument.

For more information visit: https://tularecounty.ca.gov/recovers/.

Tulare County has a Local Assistance Center (LAC) at the Government Plaza, 1055 West Henderson Avenue, Porterville, CA. Hours are 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Saturday and Sunday. A satellite LAC is open in Camp Nelson on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

We appreciate the outpouring of gratitude from the public and community organizations for our firefighters, including CONAFOR Fire Crews from Mexico and the United States. For those who would like the opportunity to thank our firefighters, you can tag us on Facebook at @sequoiaforest or send cards to: Sequoia National Forest Headquarters, ATTN: SQF Complex Firefighters, 1839 South Newcomb Street Porterville, CA 93257. Please note we are only accepting cards and thank you for your support 

Evacuations:

– Evacuation Orders, Map and Warnings for Tulare County

– Tulare County has a structure assessment form for evacuees affected by the fire to provide contact information for County officials as the damage assessment continues.

– An interactive map showing damaged structures is available.

– Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency hotline for affected citizens – (559) 802-9790

– The Red Cross has evacuation centers at Porterville Community College and the North Exeter Community Building. Also, call the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS.

Closures:

– Sequoia National Forest closure of area north of Tulare/Kern county line: Forest Order 0513-20-34 SQF Western Divide and Kern River Ranger Districts Complex Fire Area, Trail, and Road Closure

– Regional Emergency Fire Restrictions are in place: Regional Order No. 20-18

– The Bureau of Land Management Bakersfield Office has issued a temporary emergency closure.

– Road closures due to the SQF Complex may be found by clicking here.

– The Temporary Flight Restriction (9/19/20) may be found here. Drones over the fire area are prohibited.

– Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park are open except for a large portion of the wilderness in Sequoia National Park due to wildfire. For more information please visit www.nps.gov/seki 

October 10, 2020 at 10:07 AM

Smoke inversion was heavy on Friday limiting visibility and flights. As visibility allows, aircraft use will increase, focusing on dropping water and retardant in the areas most at risk. The next few days will remain cool and with some wind today. Reduced fire behavior is expected today. The fireline in and around South Fork is being reinforced. Air operations are weather dependent due to smoke.

The Hockett Meadow Ranger Station has been wrapped. Structural protection for the Kern Cabin was completed on Friday. Peck’s Cabin should be completed today.

A mobile retardant base (MRB) has been set up in Three Rivers. As a result, residents can expect to see and hear helicopters in the area. A high priority continues for crews to prepare the communities of Sequoia Crest and Cedar Slope for people to return. Crews and aircraft will continue to monitor these areas.

Because of their long lives, giant sequoias have an exceptionally long chronology of past fires recorded in their rings.

The communities of Cedar Slope, Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest, and Redwood Drive Tulare County Officials are allowing for short term visits by owners, enabling them to survey damage and salvage items. Cedar Slope residents will have access today, Saturday, October 10 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Alpine Village, Sequoia Crest and Redwood Drive have access tomorrow, Sunday, October 11 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. Check in will take place at the Local Assistance Center (LAC) at 1055 W. Henderson in Porterville starting at 8:00 am. After checking in and verification of information, property owners will proceed to Camp Nelson Fire Station to be escorted into their community. Everyone will be escorted out of the area at 2 pm. Only property owners on the designated day will be granted temporary access to their properties, in their respective community. Only one vehicle per property will be allowed. For more information visit: www.TulareCounty.ca.gov/

Tulare County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation order on October 6 for everything south of the intersection of the Cinnamon Canyon Road and South Fork Drive, including Cinnamon Canyon. South Fork Drive needs to remain available for fire crews and heavy equipment access from Highway 198 to Cinnamon Canyon Road. Please drive with caution.

Camp Nelson, Pierpoint, Ponderosa, Coy Flat, Doyle Springs, Rogers Camp, and Mountain Aire are under an Evacuation Warning. Mountain Home Camp, South Fork Drive Area, Alpine Village, Cedar Slope, Pyles Boys Camp, Redwood Drive, and Sequoia Crest are under an evacuation order. For more information visit: https://tularecounty.ca.gov/recovers/.

October 5, 2020 at 9:21 AM

The fire remains active on the northwest corner, crews are working on building and improving containment lines for perimeter control across the north end of the fire. The portion of the fire that has crossed the South Fork of the Kaweah River is backing, meaning slowing moving down a hill and is burning in light fuels. It is currently being held by rivers, creeks, and trails. Fire crews will work on finishing a contingency line using bulldozers, from the South Fork of the Kaweah River to Mineral King Road to create an added protection for the community of Three Rivers.

Yesterday, some of the smoke cleared up in the afternoon allowing the use of aviation support. Fire progression is not expected in south and eastern areas of the perimeter line. Fire crews at the Troy Meadows camp have joined the fire crews at Camp Whitsett, they are expected to arrive at the Incident Command Post at Porterville tomorrow. These resources will then be sent to the northwest where the fire remains most active.

Tulare County will open a Local Assistance Center (LAC) at the Government Plaza (1055 West Henderson Avenue, Porterville, CA). A satellite LAC will open in Camp Nelson. The hours will be from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday and 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday

October 4, 2020 at 9:46 AM

Overall, efforts to suppress the fire went well yesterday. The line at South Fork is holding. The cabins at Black Rock have had the structure protection wrap removed and the materials are being backhauled. Overnight, there was a spot fire of approximately 100 acres on the Tule Reservation. Crews were able to suppress it and forward progress in this area has ceased.

As of October 2, residents have returned to Camp Nelson, Pierpoint, Ponderosa, Coy Flat, and Doyle Springs. Visit https://tularecounty.ca.gov/recovers/ for more information. Tulare County will open a Local Assistance Center (LAC) at Porterville College on Monday morning. A satellite LAC will open in Camp Nelson. The hours will be from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday and 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday.

The public is reminded to stay vigilant when returning after a wildfire. As residents return to the areas that have been opened, it is extremely important that they continue remain clear of all closure areas. These areas are closed due to multiple hazards and crews continue to work in these areas and they will reopen as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so. For more information visit: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/post-wildfire/returning- home/.

Today, fire crews continue to build and improve containment lines for perimeter control across the north end of the fire. Fire movement on the northwest portion of the fire has crossed the South Fork of the Kaweah River and is burning in light fuels. It is currently being held by rivers, creeks, and trails. Work will begin to create a contingency line using bulldozers, from the river to Mineral King Road.

Fire crews are expected to finish their work along the southern and eastern perimeters and will begin to break down the Troy Meadows camp today, followed by Camp Whitsett tomorrow. These resources will then be sent to the northwest where the fire remains most active.

Southern California remains under the influence of a broad and strong dome of high-pressure air. With this airmass firmly in place, expect another day of high temperatures, low humidity and local terrain driven winds. With such low humidity, all vegetation is highly susceptible to fire. Smoke over the fire will continue to moderate fire behavior but will make it difficult to access the area with aircraft.

A tremendous effort for coordination, access, and effective communication during this fire has been displayed by all cooperating agencies, which has greatly contributed to the effectiveness in battling the fire. The cooperation between multiple agencies continues to be appreciated.

October 3, 2020 at 12:18 PM

Yesterday, efforts to suppress the fire went well. The containment line in the Coy Flat and Kern River drainage has been secured and they will continue to monitor this area. CONAFOR Team 3 working with the pack string is expected to finish removing structure protection wrap from the cabins in the Beach Meadows and Casa Vieja areas.  

Starting on October 2, 2020 at 3 pm, residents began returning to the Camp Nelson, Pierpoint, Ponderosa, Coy Flat, and Doyle Springs. Visit https://tularecounty.ca.gov/recovers/ for more information about recovery and when you return to your property after a wildfire be sure to:  

  • Use caution when re-entering a burned area – flare ups can occur. 
  • Check grounds for hot spots, smoldering stumps and vegetation. Use your buckets of water. 
  • Check any tall trees on your property for signs of active fire or damage. 
  • Check the roof and exterior areas for sparks and embers. Two Sequoias have fire in their tops and continue to drop embers around some structures. 
  • Check the attic and throughout the house for hidden, burning sparks and embers. 
  • Continue to check for problem areas for several days. 
  • Use extreme caution while driving, keeping an eye out for any vehicles, hazard trees, personnel, or equipment on the roads. Fire crews, utility companies, and many other workers will be in and out of thearea. 
  • Contact 911 if any danger is perceived. 

It is extremely important that residents returning to recently opened areas to remain clear of closure areas. These areas are closed due to multiple hazards. Crews are working to address these hazards and areas will be opened as a reasonable degree of safety is established. 

The first priority for fire crews is to build and improve containment lines for perimeter control across the north end of the fire. The fire remains active in the northwest area of the perimeter. Fire movement on the northwest portion of the fire has crossed the South Fork of the Kaweah River. There are an estimated 10-20 acres burning in light fuels but so far it is being held by rivers, creeks, and trails. The greatest amount of growth is along the Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia National Park boundaries, east of Dennison Mountain.

The second priority is working on the areas from Mountain Home to Camp Nelson to support the repopulation of displaced property owners. CAL FIRE is working in two main groups one in Mountain Home and one in South Fork. Efforts continue along the southern and eastern perimeters where suppression repair of firelines has begun. 

Crews will continue to work on falling hazardous trees and snags while monitoring the area. Large amounts of smoke from interior burning is expected, due to heavy downed fuels that continue to burn slowly inside the fire’s perimeter. There’s a large island of green, meaning an area that has not been burned above Camp Nelson, fire crews have been working on this area with helicopters and this work may continue today. 

The weather is mirroring what it was yesterday with, with winds primarily terrain driven and varying in direction. Lower relative humidity and warm temperatures are forecasted to be ten degrees above normal in areas without smoke. Wind may blow smoke over the most active portion over the fire, shading the vegetation. This will moderate fire behavior but will make it difficult to access the area with aircraft.  As we begin to work into October, firefighters have been on the line since July. With long hours and long assignments, many are starting to battle fatigue. However, they know the fight throughout California and the west will continue. The dedication of the firefighters is unwavering and despite the many challenges they have faced this season, they will continue to battle the wildfires across the Western US and help the communities affected by them.  

October 1, 2020 at 11:21 AM

At 7:00 AM this morning, California Interagency Incident Management Team 2 transitioned into command of the entire SQF Complex Fire. Thank you, Incident Commander Jeff Veik, and all of CAL FIRE Team 6 for the leadership they provided on this incident.

Firefighters had another productive day on the SQF Complex yesterday. In the northwest section of the fire, there was a half-acre spot fire that was spotted in a large timber pile and worked with helicopters. Weather will be a factor in the fight today. Winds will be primarily terrain driven and vary in direction for the rest of the week. Lower relative humidity and temperatures are forecasted to be ten degrees above normal. Containment increased in the southern portion with the fire showing little activity and movement yesterday and overnight.

The primary objective continues to be full perimeter control, and under a full suppression strategy.

Today, mule trains will be traveling from Blackrock to Beach Meadows and Casa Vieja, with assistance from CONAFOR Team 3, to begin removing the structure protection wrap from the cabins in the area. Some of these cabins are over one hundred years old. We are sad to report that although wrapped and prepped, the Jiffy Pop cabin in Grey Meadows was destroyed.

Crews will continue to focus on the area between Coy Flat and the Kern River drainage, securing existing fireline. Shifting winds will have some impact on this portion of the fire. The Northwest perimeter of the fire will be patrolled, and any spot fires will be worked with aircraft. Crews will continue to work on falling many hazard trees and snags that pose a threat to containment and human safety. Areas of containment will continue to be monitored with hazards being identified and removed. This process will help repopulation efforts and lead into suppression repair, removing and identifying hazard trees and minimizing negative fire effects in the area. Large amounts of smoke from interior burning is expected, due to heavy downed fuels that continue to burn slowly inside the fire’s perimeter.

The process of backhaul, breaking down and removing equipment and supplies no longer needed in the fire area, remains on the east portion of the fire and around several communities.

October 1, 2020 at 11:28 AM

Previous updates for the SQF Complex are here.