UPDATE 12:53 pm 9/19/20
The Creek Fire is now 22% contained and has burned 248,256 acres.
In Fresno County, according to Cal Fire, a few more evacuation warnings were lifted in the South Zone, occurring outside the fire perimeter in the southwestern area of the fire, and the general area of Meadow Lakes and Humphrey's Station. While containment is increasing, significant challenges remain to completing line around the entire fire. This requires construction of line in steep terrain where bulldozers may not be able to access necessitating the use of hand crews.
In Madera County, firefighters continue to show steady progress working north along the west side of the fire, developing containment line and preparing for back-burning operations. Work is focused on the 09 Road today; crews will move north toward Central Camp as operations there are completed. At this point the fire is moving slowly to the northeast. Firefighters have strategies in place for the northern flank as well as in the community of Mammoth Lake, although the fire is still more than 10 miles from the community. Additional information is available via the Forest Service Facebook page.
UPDATE 2:20 P.M. 9/18/20
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office and fire officials have downgraded mandatory orders to warnings in some areas and lifted warnings in other areas allowing repopulation to occur.
Please view the map to see exactly what zone you are in to determine if you are able to return to your property. Each day, additional zones will be evaluated to determine if they become eligible for repopulation.
Click the following link for the official detailed #CreekFire map with zones that are most up to date.
For additional information, visit https://www.fresnosheriff.org/media-relations/big-creek-fire-forces-evacuations-2.html
UPDATE 12:53 PM 9/18/20
The Creek Fire has grown to 248,256 acres and is 20% contained. Approximately 804 structures have been destroyed and another 8,611 threatened.
A briefing on the Creek Fire can be live streamed at 7 p.m. tonight on the Forest Service Facebook page.
In Fresno County, according to the daily incident update, the Creek Fire’s South Zone should experience less fire activity this morning than during the previous operations periods. An overnight weather system brought high level tropical moisture to the fire, increasing cloud cover and humidity and very light showers were experienced in the fire area. But as the weather system moves out Friday afternoon southwest winds will increase. This presents the likelihood that fire in the afternoon into the overnight periods will be more substantial than the daytime.
Last night, the fire behavior was centered around Huntington Lake around China Peak. It will also progress towards Florence Lake and the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. It should be noted substantial heat remains in the heavier fuel loads, in which smoldering will be observed until complete mop-up can occur. Operationally for the next twenty-four and forty-eight hours, the priority remains increasing containment through perimeter control and direct attack of any open flames and mopping up inside the current fire area.
In Madera County, weather conditions for today will feature increasing humidity along with the chance for light showers in the region. This humidity will help reduce the volatility of spot fires, and slow progression of the fire in the north and northeastern sections of the fire. Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks remain closed to the unhealthy smoke conditions, not because of the threat of fire spread. Any remaining visitors in these National Parks will be evacuated today. All visitors and recreationists reported to be in the Forests have been accounted for and have exited the park with no injuries reported.
Work continues on the west flank to fortify contingency lines and to protect assets such as Central Camp and the Bass Lake area. The tactics deployed in this area will provide options for our firefighting operations depending on how the fire reacts to the changing weather conditions in this area. Preparations continue for the community of Mammoth Lakes as winds push the Creek Fire to the northeast.
Meanwhile, The Sequoia Complex Fire has burned 128,902 acres and was at 12% containment as of Friday morning. It started a month ago in the Golden Trout Wilderness Area of Sequoia National Forest.
UPDATE 5:27 PM 9/17/20
Yosemite And Kings Canyon National Parks closed early Thursday evening due to smoke and poor air quality. Officials say the parks will remain closed to visitors and cars at least through the weekend, until the smoke clears and the air quality improves. The Sierra and Sequoia National Forests, as well as Sequoia National Park also remain closed as the Creek and SQF Fires continue to burn.
UPDATE 2:11 PM 9/17/20
The Creek Fire has grown to 244,756 acres and is 18% contained as of Thursday morning. Firefighters in the southern portion of the blaze are redirecting their efforts to protecting at-risk communities as increased wind conditions may cause a rise in fire activity over the weekend. Still, the Red Cross Temporary Evacuation Facility at the Mariposa Fairgrounds has closed due to reduced evacuation orders in the nearby areas.
Below are updated evacuation warnings and orders that have been lifted according to a Creek Fire news release.
Evacuation orders have been reduced to evacuation warnings in the following areas of Fresno County: Zone F1A: North of Lodge Road east of Highway 168 and east to the west side of Riverdale Road. Zone F5A: South boundary lays north of Towelling Road. West boundary is the east side of Tollhouse Road between Towelling Road and Burrough Valley Road. The east perimeter extends just west of Nancy Road and Bonneyview Road.
Evacuation Warnings have been lifted in the following areas of Fresno County: Zone F1B: East of SJ & E Road (south of Ponderosa Market, 33246 Auberry Road), North of Lodge Road, and west of the intersection of Highway 168 and Qualls Prather Road. Zone F1C: North of Lodge Road in between the east side of Auberry Road and the west side of SJ & E Road. Northern boundary includes both sides of Rockhill Lane as well as Old Creek Road. Zone F1D: East side of Auberry Road, North of Rock Hill Lane. The west side of SJ & E Road is the eastern boundary north of Old Creek Road. The northern boundary is the intersection of Auberry Road and SJ & E Road. Zone F1E: The western boundary is east of the houses located on the east side of Little Sandy Road. The southern boundary is Lodge Road at its intersection with Little Sandy Road. The eastern boundary consists of the west side of Auberry Road. The northern boundary consists of the south side of Frazier Road.
Zone F1F: The west boundary is the San Joaquin River, in between the Power Station tunnel to the south and just south of Ya-Gub-Weh-Tuh Trailhead in the north. The south boundary consists of the northern side of Frazier Road. The east boundary consists of the west side of Auberry Road (in between the intersection of Auberry Road and Frazier Road to the south, and Stonehouse Tavern, 33071 Auberry Road) to the north. The northern boundary begins just north of the Red Hawk Ranch, 33477 Cottontail Lane. Zone F1G: South boundary begins just north of Red Hawk Ranch, 33477 Cottontail Lane. Additionally, the southern boundary begins at Auberry Road just north of Stonehouse Tavern, 33071 Auberry Road. The east boundary consists of the west side of Powerhouse Road. The north boundary consists of the south side of Smalley Road. Lastly, the west boundary consists of the San Joaquin River. Zone F1H: West boundary consists of the east side of Powerhouse Road. The north boundary is just north of Wish I Ah Road. The east boundary includes both sides of Comstock Lane. Zone F1I: South boundary is the north side of Smalley Road. East boundary consists of the west side of Powerhouse Road until north of Wish I Ah Road, where both sides of Powerhouse Road are included. Both the north and west boundaries are the San Joaquin River. Zone F3M: Area surrounding Little Sandy Road north west of the intersection of Highway 168 and Little Sandy Road. This zone begins north of Highway 168 and extends west towards the Wellbarn Trail and county line. Zone F3N: Uninhabited land east of the San Joaquin River, contains the Wellbarn Road Trail and Big Table Mountain Ecological Reserve. Zone F3O: Both sides of Wellbarn Avenue north of Hurley Avenue, south of the Wellbarn Gate (Trailhead), east to the roundabout in Prather.
UPDATE 9 PM 9/16/20
The Creek Fire’s growth continues to slow as Bass Lake and other areas previously evacuated begin to be repopulated. Firefighters have maintained 18 percent containment of the 228,000 acres that have now been torched.
Nearly 750 structures are confirmed to have been destroyed and another 61 damaged, with the damage assessment still ongoing. Zero injuries or deaths have been reported due to the blaze, and of the 430 people at one time reported missing, all have now been accounted for.
Firefighters are wary of dry, windy conditions for the next few days, but meteorologists are expecting the winds to die down and humidity to rise by the weekend.
Fire officials urge caution for those driving on roads being used by firefighting vehicles as well as those returning to homes that may have sustained damage. They also warn of the possibility of mudslides or floods during the rainy season, and request that those returning home be ready to evacuate again should fire conditions change quickly.
UPDATE 12:27 PM 9/16/20
The Creek Fire remains at 18% containment and has burned 220,025 acres. At least 650 structures have been destroyed including dozens of cabins at Huntington Lake.
Nightly briefings have gone to an every other day schedule starting this evening. They continue to be live streamed on the Forest Service Facebook page.
According to the Creek Fire incident update In Fresno County, firefighters are preparing for a significant weather change across the fire area as the high pressure system that has been over the area moves east. A low-pressure system moving over California will bring clear air, gusty winds and cooler temperatures at the higher elevations. These conditions will give the fire a chance to become more active and begin pushing it toward lines that have not yet been wind tested.
In Madera County, the weather conditions yesterday afternoon brought more of a southwest wind, which allowed for some clearing of the smoke conditions along the west side of the fire. Today’s weather conditions will feature lower humidity levels which may fall below 10% relative humidity, with very little recovery overnight. This dry air coupled with clearing smoke conditions may lead to increased fire activity this afternoon, especially along the northern fire perimeter.
The Madera County Sheriff’s office has again lifted evacuation orders, reducing the number of evacuated residents to approximately 11,000. As a result of the reduced evacuation orders, the Red Cross Temporary Evacuation Facility at the Mariposa Fairgrounds has been closed.
Air operations are resuming missions slated for today. Please respect the Temporary Flight Restriction; keep drones away from the fire and firefighting operations.
UPDATE 10:06 PM 9/15/2020
The Creek Fire has burned more than 220,000 acres, and is at 18 percent containment. Nearly 10,000 structures are threatened, and at least 632 have been destroyed. However, Fresno and Madera County Sheriff’s have updated some evacuation orders and warnings for communities along the western edge of the blaze. Those zones and updates can be found on the respective agency websites. While the threat to the eastern Sierras is minimal right now, Mono County leaders are preparing their communities for evacuating out of the Mammoth Lakes region if needed.
UPDATE 12:22 PM 9/15/20
The wildfire has burned 220,025 acres and is 16% contained. Firefighters are preparing for a change in weather that may cause flare ups in the Creek Fire’s South Zone. With smoke conditions clearing out, air crafts will resume operations after several days on standby. In Madera County, some evacuation orders were lifted, including the area of John West, Upper 426 road and China Creek. As of Tuesday morning, Cal Fire reported the fire has destroyed 555 structures and has threatened nearly 12,000.
UPDATE 12:33 PM 9/14/20
The Creek Fire has grown to 212,744 acres and 10% containment. Overnight, the blaze remained active in both Fresno and Madera counties. It continues to grow in the northeastern region near the San Joaquin drainage according to a Cal Fire update. Nearly 390 structures have been destroyed with threats to more structures remaining as the fire burns in the foothills.
UPDATE: 10:35 PM Sunday 9/13/20
As of Sunday night, the Creek Fire is still at 201,908 acres with 10% containment. Additional firefighters from across the state have joined the battle against the blaze with more than 2,500 joining the fight. Despite wind conditions that caused some flare ups inside the fire’s perimeter, a spokesperson for Cal Fire said Sunday was a successful day for containment.
UPDATE: 1:42 PM Sunday 9/13/20
The Creek Fire is at 8% containment with 201,908 acres burned. Full containment is not expected until the middle of October.
Below is an update on fighting the Creek Fire from Cal Fire. For more information, click here.
Fresno County: Today the weather will transition and winds, combined with lower humidity and higher temperatures will begin to develop in the afternoon. The Creek Fire South Zone firefighters are working on multiple fronts that will become more active as the smoke clears.
A lot of good work has been accomplished over the four days that the smoke layer has held the fire activity down. Crews will fight to hold and improve on that work today, and to add to the progress that has already been made. Patrol and extinguishment of hot spots will be the focus around structures south of Huntington Lake where firefighters engaged with a defensive firing operation that saved several structures. Fire also challenged the line in the area of Old Bretz Mill and Sierra Cedars. Firefighters were able to hold the line, preventing the fire from moving toward nearby structures.
The fire did burn over the line yesterday in Jose Basin on the southwest edge of the fire. Crews will work to pick the area up as it backs down the hill. They will also be patrolling around structures and mopping up any hot spots.
Line construction will continue in multiple areas. Construction of the fireline between Shaver Lake and Dinky Creek is a high priority for fire managers. The lack of a suitable ridge to the east to use as a contingency line is a concern. Fireline work will continue along Cherry Valley and into Blue Canyon where firefighters are concerned that the fire could become aligned with the wind and make a run. In the northeast the fire has been running along the North and South Zone dividing line for the fire. This finger of fire is burning in light fuels and moving toward natural rock barriers that will slow spread.
Madera County: The fire continues to push west toward Central Camp, challenging initial plans for containment lines in that area, but structure protection remains in place. Firefighters are developing and improving containment line on the west side of the fire from Redinger Lake north to Cascadel Woods and Central Camp.
The weather pattern is beginning to shift; increasing winds are likely to begin moving smoke out of the north end of the fire, which is also expected to encourage fire growth to the northeast. Structure protection is underway on the north side of the fire, at Devil’s Post Pile National Monument, and Reds Meadows.
With better visibility, air operations are expected to resume. There have been conflicts between firefighting operations and drones. If you fly, we can’t! Please comply with the temporary flight restriction. Don’t be the reason a firefighting air mission has to divert from the operation.
The Madera County Sheriff continues to enforce evacuation notices and maintain road closures to protect the public. Damage assessments are in progress; the county will notify property owners directly as information becomes available. Firefighters are working to clear roads so that utility companies have access to restore service, as the sheriff’s office begins to develop plans for residents to return to communities.
The next incident briefing will be Monday at 7pm via Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/SierraNF/
UPDATE: 4:53 PM Saturday 9/12/20
The Creek Fire is now the 16th largest fire in the state's history at 6 % contained.
Nearly 2,000 firefighters are battling the fast moving blaze that’s burned more than 200,000 acres. The fire continues to expand into rugged terrain making it a top priority for firefighters. And with dry conditions working against them, officials are monitoring hotspots that have the potential to flare up if weather conditions worsen. The Creek Fire has destroyed more than 370 structures, including dozens of homes and businesses in eastern Fresno and Madera Counties.
The following information is from CAL FIRE:
CAL FIRE, in collaboration with the County of Fresno, has released a preliminary interactive map of the Creek Fire. The interactive map displays preliminary information about damaged and destroyed property. Not all properties have been inspected. It is anticipated it will take two weeks for completion. The public may access the map online and enter an address(es) to see limited information on the condition of property based on initial reports from damage assessment teams.
Due to the changing nature of the Creek Fire and the priority of protecting life and safety, the map will continually be updated as personnel are allowed to safely enter areas and record data. For this reason, not all properties will be reflected at this time so the public is asked for patience as data is collected and entered on a regular basis by CAL FIRE.
What this map provides:
A resource for general information regarding the status of properties observed in areas affected by the Creek Fire
Awareness of conditions that may aid residents with initial planning for returning to their property.
A snapshot in time of a property. Information is subject to change depending on fire conditions and available data.
What this map does NOT provide:
Official confirmation of property status. Any information provided on this map is considered preliminary. Conditions will only be verified upon formal inspection by disaster assessment officials upon safe reentry into the area.
Comprehensive data for all homes in affected areas. Data and information will be updated as it is safely identified, collected and uploaded. Addresses that cannot be located on the map is NOT an indication of property status.
Map is NOT proof of a home’s condition to be used for insurance, permitting, rebuilding or other purposes.
Damage inspection teams are made up of CAL FIRE personnel, the area remains hazardous and off limits to the public. Map will be updated regularly, with all data subject to change based on available information. Please find link to map at https://arcg.is/1vaCOP
Learning the status of a property during a disaster can evoke a strong emotional response. Support is available. 24/7 Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. In-person counseling is also available at the Temporary Evacuation Point at Clovis North / Granite Ridge campus.
Within the next week, the County of Fresno will establish a multi-agency Local Assistance Center to serve as a one-stop-shop to provide disaster assistance for those impacted by the Creek Fire. More details will be provided as they are available.
For more information and resources, please visit the County of Fresno’s Creek Fire resource website at https://www.co.fresno.ca.us/departments/public-health/fresno-county-emergency.
UPDATE: 6:09 PM Friday 9/11/20
The California Air National Guard re-assigned seven Black Hawks from the Valley Fire to the Creek Fire today. Three of those helicopters will assist in fighting the fire. Each helicopter will have two pilots with one crew chief and a Cal Fire manager directing operations. The other four are on standby for rescue missions, according to a spokesperson for Cal Fire. However, low visibility due to smoke conditions has delayed all seven helicopters from flying. The 26 helicopters with Cal Fire are also on standby until smoke conditions improve.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Department is escorting several hikers and campers who were sheltered in place near Edison Lake since the start of the fire. Deputies began leading the vehicles out of the evacuation areas around 5 p.m. today.
UPDATE: 10:40 AM Friday 9/11/20
Below is an update on fighting the Creek Fire from Cal Fire. For more information, click here.
Current situation information from Fresno County:
Firefighters on the South Zone of the Creek Fire are building on a successful shift yesterday. Dozer operators and hand crews have now tied fireline into the San Joaquin River. The San Joaquin River divides the north and south zones of the fire. This line will join with line from the North Zone and provide an anchor point for the construction of control Line. Crews also worked to secure areas around structures in the areas of Auberry, Shaver Lake, Hudson Lake and Huntington Lake.
On the east side of the fire today crews will focus on perimeter control and constructing a preliminary line around several spot fires located southeast of Huntington Lake. A key safety hazard located at China Peak will be addressed by Fresno County Sheriff. Blasting caps are used for avalanche control and are stored at the sight. Firefighters have had to maintain a safe distance around this area. Once secured, they will be able to address fire control issues at the site.
On the southern perimeter dozers are pushing along the ridge north of Burrough Valley Road to tie the fireline into Blue Canyon. This operation is a key component in the effort to protect Shaver Lake. Blue Canyon contains a large amount of dead standing timber and if fire became established in the drainage it could run toward the community.
Current situation information from Madera County:
Firefighters continue to make gains on the west side of the fire under a thick smoke layer settled over the area. Although the smoky air is unpleasant and limiting air operations, it is also providing cooler temperatures, lighter winds, and reduced fire activity, giving firefighters an opportunity to conduct successful operations. The smoke is expected to persist at least another day.
Dozers and hand crews are continuing to build line northward. Last night’s back-burning operations were successful from TerraTerra north to Cascadel Woods. Firefighers are also working on building line and structure protection in North Fork/South Fork area and Central Camp. Containment lines are capitalizing upon old dozer lines, roads, and natural fire breaks, such as rocky outcrops and open areas.
While conditions are expected to remain favorable today for suppression efforts, the fire still has substantial potential for rapid growth when the inversion lifts. The Madera County Sheriff continues to enforce evacuation notices and maintain road closures to protect the public.
UPDATE: 8:30 PM Thursday 9/10/2020
As of Thursday night, the Creek Fire is 6% contained, according to Cal Fire officials. And U.S Forest Supervisor Dean Gould said firefighters are pivoting from defense to offense against the wildfire. However, strong winds from the east will continue to work against firefighter efforts until Friday evening, according to meteorologist Ryan Walbrun.
Around 44,000 people have been displaced by the Creek Fire, and a representative of the Red Cross estimates its evacuation centers have already provided hotel rooms for 1200 of them. If you need a place to sleep, food, medicine or shelter for small animals, the Red Cross is operating two evacuation centers, at Clovis North High School and the Mariposa Fairgrounds, that can connect you with resources. If you need help sheltering large livestock, call the Central California Animal Disaster Team at 1-888-402-2238.
UPDATE: 11:50 AM Thursday 9/10/2020
The Creek Fire is currently at 175,893 acres and is 0% contained. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors held a special meeting Thursday morning to declare a local emergency due to the fire. Madera County Sheriff Jay Varney declared a local emergency Saturday, which was ratified by the board of supervisors Tuesday.
UPDATE: 9:01 PM Wednedsay 9/9/2020
During the Sierra National Forest's daily livestream update, officials from the Madera and Fresno County Sheriff's Office said they expect evacuation orders to remain in effect for at least a few weeks. The fire has grown to 166,965 acres and is still 0% contained. One commander noted that a fire of this size would ideally have over 3,000 personnel fighting the blaze. Due to other fires around the state, there are just over a thousand are taking on the Creek Fire.
UPDATE: 5:31 PM Wednesday 9/9/2020
For nightly livestream updates on the Creek Fire, go to the Sierra National Forest Facebook page. Updates are at 7 p.m.
There is a growing need for donations for livestock animals housed at the Fresno Fairgrounds, an evacuation site for livestock animals from Fresno County communities. Donations can be dropped off at the Gem & Mineral Building. For more information and a list of needed items go to: https://www.fresnofair.com/p/plan/creek-fire-evacuations
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office has created an interactive map that shows where the evacuation orders and evacuation warnings are in the county due to the Creek Fire.
UPDATE: 10:09 AM Wednesday 9/9/2020
Fresno and Madera County Sheriff's Departments estimate nearly 44,000 people have been evacuated from the Creek Fire’s path as of Tuesday evening. There have been 365 structures destroyed, and 5,296 remain threatened by the wildfire. Coarsegold, Oakhust and the road from Oakhurst to Road 200 have been added to the evacuation list. As a result, the temporary evacuation center moved from Oakhurst to the Mariposa fairgrounds Tuesday evening.
As of Wednesday morning, Cal Fire reported the fire has burned through 163,138 acres with containment still at 0%.
UPDATE: 5:31 PM Tuesday 9/8/2020
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Department issued new Evacuation Orders for residents from Humphrey’s Station to Tollhouse Road and from Humphrey’s Station to Pittman Hill Road to Sample Road.
The Sheriff’s Office also updated the number of hikers and campers who were evacuated from Edison Lake on Tuesday morning. Seven Sheriff’s deputies and three Fresno Police officers travelled to Edison Lake, Florence Lake and Mono Hot Springs Monday to help those who were stranded. As smoke conditions worsened, 142 people plus the officers were forced to shelter in place at the Vermillion Valley Resort on Edison Lake. Tuesday morning, the Air National Guard and NAS Lemoore used a Blackhawk helicopter and a Chinook helicopter to transport everyone to safety at the Fresno airport. Pilots made a total of eight trips to transport 142 people plus the ten officers.
Crews were also able to recover the body of the man who passed away at Vermilion Store Sunday evening and fly him back to Fresno. He died from a medical episode not related to the fires.
UPDATE: 1:40 PM Tuesday 9/8/2020
The Creek Fire has burned 143,929 acres and is at 0% containment. The U.S. Forest Service says 65 structures have been destroyed and more than 5,000 are threatened.
There are new mandatory evacuation orders from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office for residents in the foothill communities on the south side of the fire. They include Burrough Valley, and portions of Watts Valley, Maxon Pittman Hill and Trimmer Springs Roads.
So far, no fatalities have been confirmed, but the Fresno County Sheriff’s office reported late Monday night that an older gentleman in the area died from a medical episode, unrelated to the fires. Due to the fire, emergency medical services were unable to retrieve the body.
A Shaver Lake landmark, Cressman’s General Store, was still standing Monday afternoon but by Tuesday, the beloved business serving visitors everything from warm cookies to lunches had burned to the ground. The gas station next to it also burned.
Dozens stranded by the Creek Fire have been brought to safety in Fresno as of Tuesday morning. Crews from the California National Guard and Lemoore Naval Air Station conducted three flights between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. in Blackhawk and Seahawk helicopters. The flights rescued 22 people from Lake Edison and 13 from China Peak. Earlier rescue attempts made last night had to be aborted due to heavy smoke. Additional California National Guard helicopter evacuations took place later in the morning. In total, about 100 people were transported from Lake Edison and China Peak to Fresno.
At its first daily press conference Monday night, CalFire said the incident has grown so severe that two major disaster-management teams have been assigned. Each team will fight the fire from adjoining counties: Fresno and Madera. The northern team is made up of local and federal personnel from the Great Basin region, while the southern term is primarily local and CalFire personnel.
The Creek Fire and other fires around the state are impacting all areas of the San Joaquin Valley. The San Joaquin Valley Air District is issuing a health caution which will remain in effect until the fires are extinguished. The district is advising people to stay indoors if possible. Residents can use the District’s Real-time Air Advisory Network (RAAN) to track air quality at any valley location by visiting myRAAN.com.
UPDATE: 11:47 PM 9/7/20
The Creek Fire has now burned over 135,000 acres, nearly doubling in size since Monday morning. There is still zero containment on the fire, which has destroyed 65 buildings. The community of Bass Lake is now under a mandatory evacuation, while Oakhurst, Coarsegold, O'Neals and Prather are under evacuation warnings. and 5,200 structures are threatened.
The Creek Fire in the Sierra National Forest has destroyed buildings in a tiny mountain town and led to a huge airlift for stranded campers. The blaze has covered more than 78,000 acres as of Monday morning, and is still growing.
How the blaze began Friday evening is still under investigation, but so far, the Creek Fire has covered ground from Shaver and Huntington Lakes, to Mammoth pools in eastern Fresno and Madera Counties.
“Tree mortality is playing a huge factor in the devastation of the firefront,” says Chris Bruno, a captain with CalFire. He says in addition to hot and humid weather, bark beetles have made the forest more susceptible to the blaze.
A quarter of the trees on state and federal land affected by bark beetles are in the Sierra National Forest.
Bruno applauded a successful airlift rescue effort by the California National Guard late Saturday night after the fire blocked the path for campers to evacuate from a site at Mammoth Pool.
“Two-hundred and seven civilians were rescued from the Wagner Store camp groundsite, and there were two significant injuries to two of those people,” says Bruno. The rest of the campers were assessed and released.
Twenty more people who had remained stranded Sunday at Mammoth Pool were evacuated overnight, a sheriff’s office spokesman told the Fresno Bee.
The fire also ripped through the tiny town of Big Creek. The Fresno Bee reported half the homes in Big Creek are destroyed.
The communities of Shaver and Huntington Lakes, as well as other small communities in Fresno and Madera Counties are under mandatory evacuation orders. The Red Cross has established evacuation centers at the Oakhurst Community Center and Clovis North High School.
Governor Gavin Newsom announced a State of Emergency Sunday afternoon for Fresno, Madera and Mariposa Counties due to the fire.