The Fresno Bee
The Creek Fire continued with small growth on Monday, as firefighters used the past few days of favorable weather conditions to battle the blaze directly at the fire line.
But fire activity is expected to pick up this week as favorable conditions change. Temperatures may hit the high 80s at high elevation as a warming trend enters the region and smoke from the fire becomes trapped. The outlook into next week will look similar to the conditions of late September and early October, according to a meteorologist with the firefighting team.
As the wildfire moves north, it is getting into areas with less fuel, which will slow growth and help with containment.
As of Tuesday morning the fire had burned 337,655 acres and was 55% contained. The cause remained under investigation.
The SQF Complex Fire (the Castle and Shotgun fires) remained at 70% containment on Tuesday. The fires, which have been burning near Sequoia National Park since Aug. 19, have consumed 167,479 acres.
On Monday, evacuation orders were reduced to voluntary warnings for Lloyd Meadow and Balch Park Road from Battle Mountain Monument to the entrance of Mountain Home State Park. This is for residents only. The national forest remains closed in the area.
Fire crews have added containment to the Bullfrog Fire near Dinkey Creek. According to incident reports, the fire is still at 1,185 acres, but is now 60% contained.
Smoky conditions return
Tuesday was expected to be the last day of generally clean air this week as smoke concentrations increase beginning as soon as Tuesday night.
The heaviest smoke impacts will be felt on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada in Mammoth Lakes down to Bishop and locations near the western perimeter, such as North Fork. Light smoke settled Monday night in foothills areas, including El Portal, Mariposa, Ponderosa Basin, Oakhurst, Prather and Millerton, according to Cal Fire’s daily smoke outlook.
The cleanest air will be within the Yosemite Valley and high-elevation locations north of the fire.
Beware of wildlife affected by the fire
Fire officials are now getting reports of wildlife moving through areas affected by the Creek Fire. Bears have come into to contact with fire crews at Edison and Florence lakes and with residents in Shaver Lake. The animals have even been seen down into Auberry.
Wildlife activity can be reported to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fresno office at 559-243-4005.
Warm, dry conditions predicted
The National Weather Service was expecting seven days of dry weather and elevated fire danger beginning Tuesday across the Kern County mountains and into Thursday and Friday for other parts of the region.
This should affect the region’s air quality, though the forecast for Tuesday looked very much like it did on Monday — moderate for most of the region and “good” in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.
The Air Quality Index for Fresno rose overnight. As of 7 a.m. it was in the moderate range (69 to 97 depending on location). The PM2.5 concentration was within level two. Sensitive individuals should consider reducing prolonged and/or vigorous outdoor activities.
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