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The Detwiler Fire, Mariposa County
 (Aerial Photo by Gwen Adams Schmitt – after the fire split and made a mind-boggling 16-mile
dash for the town of Mariposa.  That’s the rough distance between those two main plumes.)
   Fires in our Yosemite Gateway region affect us all.  Collectively, personally –

   but sometimes with gut-wrenching, life-changing consequences.

And when only one county is directly affected, the manner in which all our Yosemite Gateways             come together to help is nothing short of inspiring.

The circumstances of the Detwiler Fire have changed enormously since it was first reported at         3:50 PM on Sunday, July 16.  At first, just a few acres near Detwiler Road and Hunters Valley Road were engulfed – a couple miles east of Lake McClure in northwestern Mariposa County.  Despite a near-immediate marshaling of forces and an all-out assault by multiple agencies, in just a few hours that fire had consumed 2,500 acres. By Monday 7,100 acres had burned; it then turned southeast with a vengeance and not only burned through Bear Valley, but then leapt Highway 49 handily – growing to 25,000 acres.  And then, somewhat amazingly to we who know this area well: the fire would ALSO roar through Catheys Valley, threaten Hornitos and then: cross Highway 140 South – in the area of Yaqui Gulch – moving at a nearly-unbelievable speed of one mile an hour at times.  By Wednesday, its size had nearly doubled AGAIN, to 45,000 acres. Highways 49 and 140 were both closed to traffic.  And the fire still grew, threatening the very town of Mariposa itself – some 16 miles from the initial ignition site – as yet more locations in this huge expanse of county were issued evacuation orders – including Ben Hur, the Mariposa Fairgrounds area – and the entire town of Mariposa.  Electricity flickered out all over the county as flames consumed wires, evening downing some across major arteries, but the lights went out as well as PG&E crews turned the power off deliberately to insure the safety of firefighters.  Mariposa became a ghost town: its residents gone, with no electricity designating life – after dark, the only sign of activity being the sick red flames leaping over ridges overlooking the town’s ash-covered historic district.

As I write you now on Friday afternoon, the fire is now 15% contained, though it’s grown to a    still-active 74,083 acres.  That’s – by my rough calculations: 115 square miles.  The lights are back   on in many areas – including the town of Mariposa, which had its evacuation notice lifted at 11 this morning. Highway 49 SOUTH has reopened from Oakhurst to NORTH, just past Mariposa town; Highway 140 is likewise open from town east to Yosemite.  We’re grateful to have had our power restored up here in Jerseydale, removed by distance and elevation from the fire, but still covered in ash, and with the air a sickly brown.  As the wan red afternoon sun weakly tries to remind us that it’s still here.

But it’s not over – and that fire continues to burn, desperate to try to reach Coulterville, Dogtown and Greeley Hill: all of which have been evacuated.   As of 4:00 this afternoon, and according to CalFire’s damage assessment crews: some 58 residences have been destroyed. Those are homes and possessions: gone.  Another 11 residences have received damage; 60 “minor” buildings – sheds, outbuildings, barns: have also been completely destroyed.  And remember, they’ve only just begun to assess the damage.  San Francisco Chronicle reporter Evan Sernoffsky posted a very sobering video on his Twitter feed from Mt. Bullion:

https://mobile.twitter.com/EvanSernoffsky/status/888119560322203649/video/1

We of the Board of Directors of the Yosemite Gateway Partners offer our deepest, most heart-felt appreciation to the multi-agency crews who’ve been working non-stop since Sunday afternoon, drawn from local, regional, state and Federal agencies.  These crews have been extraordinary heroes.  Dozers and hand crews on the ground, relentless air assault during safe daylight hours sometimes restricted by smoky skies – they’ve all been extraordinary. And great thanks also goes out to our magnificent Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department, as well as all other agencies – including volunteer forces.  Countless families have been displaced, and have been welcomed into privates homes and also into evacuation shelters throughout our Yosemite Gateways.

The American Red Cross of the Central Valley has established five shelter locations in three counties:

1.    EV Free Church, 50443 High School Road, Oakhurst, CA
2.    Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, 39696 Hwy 41, Oakhurst, CA
3.    Mountain Christian Center, 40299 Hwy 49, Oakhurst, CA 93644
4.    Cesar Chavez Junior High, 161 S. Plainsburg, Planada, CA
5.    Groveland Community Hall, 18720 Hwy 120, Groveland, CA

Here are a couple links which may be helpful:

CalFire’s Detwiler Fire page, with updating a couple times each day:
http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_details_info?incident_id=1672

Mariposa County Sheriff’s Page – showing NIXLE alerts and other updating:
http://www.mariposacounty.org/index.aspx?NID=82

Finally, and in closing: I’d like to personally thank all our friends and neighbors of our nearby Gateway counties and communities.  All of you.  Disasters such as the Detwiler Fire may indeed draw us closer, but in fact we ARE all in this together, through thick and thin, in good times and bad.  And I’m so grateful for this organization’s role over the years in helping to forge a true partnership: a big Yosemite family.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you all.

Les Marsden
President,

Yosemite Gateway Partners

 

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Soupbowl Prescribed Fire  

June 12, 2017

Yesterday evening at 1900 hours Yosemite Fire and Aviation started ignition on the Soupbowl Prescribed Fire Unit between the South Entrance and the community of Wawona. At 2100 hours operations were shut down due to mixed rain and snow. Burn conditions were good leading up to the weather event.  5-10 acres of blackline was complete along the Wawona Road (State Hwy 41 Extension).

Today National Park Service and Mariposa County Fire resources on scene will be doing mop-up and securing the burn perimeter. Fire personnel will be patrolling the roadside for hazard trees and any fire burning in cat-faces (openings created by past fire in the lower portion of a tree).

Traffic control personnel will be on scene and in place.  At this time both traffic lanes will remain open along the burn perimeter unless issues arise. Please use caution while driving in the area and slow down for fire fighter safety.

A warming and drying trend will occur this week with temperatures well above normal by Thursday. A high pressure ridge will be setting in through the weekend making air quality marginal by Thursday.  Smoke will be present along the road and fire management will continue to monitor throughout the week.

There are no planned ignitions for the rest of the week. Resources will continue to secure what was burned last night and look for another burn window throughout the summer.

 

Soupbowl Prescribed Fire  

June 11, 2017

 Yosemite National Park fire managers are planning a prescribed fire starting the evening of June 11th, weather conditions permitting, in the Unit 26 Soupbowl B project area along Wawona Road (State Highway 41 extension) south of Wawona, potentially burning 2-3 segments ranging from 103 acres to 174 acres.  The amount of acres to be treated will be based on air quality on the day of planned ignition.

The primary objective of the project is to reduce hazardous vegetation (fuel) around the Wildland Urban Interface community of Wawona. This project will also help protect park infrastructure at the South Entrance station and reduce the threat of wildfires originating along Wawona Road that could adversely impact the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias.  This fuels treatment would help create a continuous fuel break between the community of Wawona and the south entrance of the park linking other burn areas, mechanical thinning projects, and previous prescribed fires.

Another objective of the Soupbowl prescribed fire is ecosystem restoration. Over 100 years ago, aggressive fire suppression policies resulted in fire exclusion across conifer forests throughout the Sierra Nevada Range. Applying fire under prescribed conditions mimics the frequent, low intensity lightning caused fires that occurred in the Sierras prior to the exclusion of fire.  Historically, natural fires burned an average of 16,000 acres annually in Yosemite and played an integral role in shaping Yosemite’s ecosystems.  In the absence of frequent fire, unnatural levels of forest fuel have accumulated which has put many of Yosemite’s natural and cultural values at risk.  As climate and forest dynamics change, these values become increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire.

Park employees, community members, and visitors can expect to see crews from various federal and state agencies working along the Wawona Road doing prescribed fire preparation and burn operations. Traffic control will be in place during burn operations and delays should be short. Traffic will escorted by pilot car. Please use caution and follow signs when entering and exiting for firefighter safety.

Smoke will be present during the prescribed fire and in the Wawona area.  Fire managers are working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution District (MCAPCD) to time the project to coincide with favorable weather that will facilitate good air quality, and disperse smoke into the atmosphere away from the community.  Prior to ignition, smoke monitoring equipment will be installed in the community and a burn permit will be issued to the park by MCAPCD.  Community members who are sensitive to smoke may want to close their windows and doors and/or consider leaving the area during active ignition of the project in order to reduce their exposure.

For additional Information:

 

 

 

Soupbowl Prescribed Fire

Yosemite National Park fire managers are planning a prescribed fire for the week of June 12th, weather conditions permitting, in the Unit 26 Soupbowl B project area along Highway 41 south of Wawona potentially burning 2-3 segments ranging from 103 acres to 174 acres. The amount of acres to be considered is based on air quality the day of planned ignition.

The primary objective of the project is to reduce hazardous vegetation (fuel) around the Wildland Urban Interface community of Wawona. This project will also help protect park infrastructure at the South Entrance station and reduce the threat of wildfires originating along Highway 41 that could adversely impact the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias. It would help create a continuous fuel break between the community of Wawona and the south entrance of the park linking other recent wildfire areas with reduced fuels, mechanical thinning projects, and previous prescribed fires.

Park employees, community members, and visitors can expect to see crews from various federal and state agencies working along the Highway 41 corridor doing prescribed fire preparation and burn operations. Traffic control will be in place during burn operations and delays should be short. Please use caution when entering and exiting for firefighter safety.

Mariposa Grove Prescribed Fire

The Mariposa Grove is still closed for restoration which provides fire managers the opportunity to build off the burns completed in fall 2016 to enhance the protection and future growth of the Giant Sequoias. 1-3 segments of the grove ranging from 40 up to 140 acres are under consideration for additional prescribed fire, weather and air quality permitting.

Historically, natural fires burned an average of 16,000 acres annually in Yosemite and played an integral role in shaping Yosemite’s ecosystems. In the absence of frequent fire, unnatural levels of forest fuel have accumulated which has put many of Yosemite’s natural and cultural values at risk of severe wildfire. As climate and forest dynamics change, these values become increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire.

Smoke will be present during prescribed fire and in the Wawona area. Fire managers are working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution Control District (MCAPD) to time the projects to coincide with favorable weather and smoke dispersion conditions. Smoke, affecting health, is always a consideration in the decision to schedule prescribed fires. A smoke management plan has been submitted to the MCAPCD, and a burn permit has been issued for both burn units. A smoke monitor will be placed in nearby communities to monitor smoke.

For More Information Contact :

 Twitter: https://twitter.com/YosemiteFire

 

Soupbowl Prescribed Fire June 6, 2017

Yosemite National Park fire managers are planning a prescribed fire for the week of June 12th, weather conditions permitting, in the Unit 26 Soupbowl B project area along Highway 41 south of Wawona potentially burning 2-3 segments ranging from 103 acres to 174 acres. The amount of acres to be considered is based on air quality the day of planned ignition.

The primary objective of the project is to reduce hazardous vegetation (fuel) around the Wildland Urban Interface community of Wawona. This project will also help protect park infrastructure at the South Entrance station and reduce the threat of wildfires originating along Highway 41 that could adversely impact the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. It would help create a continuous fuel break between the community of Wawona and the south entrance of the park linking other burn areas, mechanical thinning projects, and previous prescribed fires.

Another objective of the Soupbowl prescribed fire is ecosystem restoration. Over 100 years ago, aggressive fire suppression policies resulted in fire exclusion across conifer forests throughout the Sierra Nevada Range. Applying fire under prescribed conditions mimics the frequent, low intensity lightning caused fires that occurred in the Sierras prior to the exclusion of fire. Historically, natural fires burned an average of 16,000 acres annually in Yosemite and played an integral role in shaping Yosemite’s ecosystems. In the absence of frequent fire, unnatural levels of forest fuel have accumulated which has put many of Yosemite’s natural and cultural values at risk. As climate and forest dynamics change, these values become increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire.

Park employees, community members, and visitors can expect to see crews from various federal and state agencies working along the Highway 41 corridor doing prescribed fire preparation and burn operations. Traffic control will be in place during burn operations and delays should be short. Please use caution when entering and exiting for firefighter safety.

Smoke will be present during the prescribed fire and in the Wawona area. Fire managers are working with the Mariposa County Air Pollution District (MCAPCD) to time the project to coincide with favorable weather that will facilitate good air quality, and disperse smoke into the atmosphere away from the community. Prior to ignition, smoke monitoring equipment will be installed in the community and a burn permit will be issued to the park by MCAPCD. Community members who are sensitive to smoke may want to close their windows and doors and/or consider leaving the area during active ignition of the project in order to reduce their exposure.

For additional Information

 

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Igniters ligning-up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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