The SQF Complex, the wildfire the is burning 25 miles north of Kernville, began on August 19 due to lighting strikes in the area. The fire has grown to 160,908 acres and is 65% contained. Currently, there are 21 hand crews, eight dozers, 17 water tenders, eight helicopters, 51 engines, and a total of 853 personnel working to contain the fire. There have been 17 injuries reported, and 228 structures have been destroyed.
On Wednesday, the fire was active in the northwest area near Cedar and Squaw Creek and spread to Homers Nose moving east toward the Hockett Meadow area. Threats to infrastructure on Case Mountain, the Hockett Ranger Station, several sequoia groves and wilderness values with Sequoia National Park continue. Hockett Meadow ranger station and structures in South Fork were prepped to be wrapped in fire protection wrap. Crews were working to stop the fire from spreading and will focus on securing the perimeter and building contingency line along Mineral King Road to Case Mountain.
As the temperatures start to cool and the smoke begins to clear, fire activity is expected to increase. The potential for smoke columns starting to form near Homers Nose may be seen in the South Fork and Three Rivers areas. With clear visibility, there will be an increased use of aircraft and helicopters to focus on dropping water and fire retardant in the areas most at risk.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office has 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.
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/.
The southern perimeter is holding. Crews will focus on removing fire weakened trees and extinguish hot spots in this area. Preparing the communities of Sequoia Crest and Cedar Slope for people to return to these areas remains a high priority for fire crews. There are sections that are unburnt and may burn causing an increase of visible smoke from inside the perimeter. Crews and aircraft will continue to monitor these areas.
Tulare County has opened a Local Assistance Center (LAC) at the Government Plaza (1055 West Henderson Avenue, Porterville, CA). Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. A satellite LAC is open in Camp Nelson on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
There has been a transfer of command from California Incident Management Team 2 to Southern California Incident Management Team 13 on October 6, 2020 at 6 p.m.
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 also available. Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency hotline for affected citizens can be reached at (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.
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
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Cooperating and Assisting Organizations that have been working to contain the fire include Southern California Edison, Tulare County Fire, Tulare County Sheriff, Tulare County OES, Tulare County Roads, California Highway Patrol, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, California Conservation Corps, California Office of Emergency Services, AT&T, Verizon, California Department of Transportation, California Air National Guard, California National Guard and CONAFOR, Mexico.
Residents in the affected areas are encouraged to continue to prepare for the possibility of fire in their area in advance. Go to www.ready.gov/wildfires to learn how to prepare.
As residents return to the areas that have been opened, it is extremely important that they continue remain clear of all closure areas. Activities, such as wood gathering and hunting are not allowed within the forest closure. These areas will reopen as soon as it is reasonably safe to do so. For more information visit: https://www.readyforwildfire.org/post-wildfire/returning-home/.
County downgrades areas under Evacuation Orders
Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux has downgraded Balch Park Road, from Blue Ridge Drive to the Battle Mountain Monument, from an Evacuation Order to a Voluntary Evacuation Warning.
A Voluntary Evacuation Warning means people living in the area are able to return to their homes, but should still be ready to evacuate should fire conditions change. All remaining Evacuation Orders and Voluntary Evacuation Warnings remain in place. Crews continue to work and travel in the area. Please do not travel into these communities as extra traffic can impact the ability for crews to quickly get in and out of the fire area. At this time, only residents are allowed to return.
All remaining Evacuation Orders and Evacuation Warnings remain in place.