The WindyFire burning in the Tule River Indian Reservation and Giant Sequoia National Monument was estimated to be 86,502 acres on Monday night. That was a 4,224-acre increase from Monday morning’s reported acreage). Containment remained at 2 percent.
Gusty winds — 25 to 35 miles per hour — were common and widespread over the fire area on Monday. Southeast of the fire in Tiger Flats, a portable weather station has been installed, “which is providing valuable data to the incident meteorologists and fire-behavior analyst,” officials stated. The station recorded several instances of gusts of more than 40 miles per hour on Monday.
“Although they had windy conditions to contend with, firefighters benefited from the slightly moderating effect that today’s cooler temperatures and higher relative humidity levels had on fire behavior,” officials stated. “On the northwest side, crews were able to continue the firing operation, making significant progress southward toward Wheatons.
“They got out in front of the main fire near the South Fork Tule River, slowing its westward advance into the Tule River Indian Reservation.”
Ground crews were supported by helicopters that conducted water and retardant drops. Monday night's winds were going to be favorable in that area, pushing the fire into itself, officials stated.
On the north side of the fire near Peppermint, there were some hotspots outside the fireline. Crews constructed dozer line around them, and they were attempting to use direct fire-suppression tactics in that area.
The east side of the fire had less fire activity and growth on Monday than other areas. Firefighters were extinguishing hotspots along the fireline and well into the burned area.
The fire remains active on the southeast and south sides between Baker Peak and Tobias Peak. It has bumped into the 2016 Cedar Fire scar, where airborne embers and firebrands were landing and starting spot fires in the snag patches.
Heading west along the southern perimeter, crews were using a network of roads to comprise the fireline and implement direct fire-suppression tactics as often as they can. Firefighters were also in a structure-defense posture in Sugarloaf, Pine Flat, and California Hot Springs.
The most significant weather concern will happen today once again with strong winds associated with a cold front. Sustained, 20 to 30 mile-per-hour winds are expected across much of the fire area, with the south side being hit harder by 30 to 40 mile-per-hour winds.
Relative humidity levels will be higher, though, with the west side benefitting the most: 55 to 75 percent on the west and 35 to 55 percent on the east. Snags —standing dead trees — are abundant in the vicinity of the Cedar Fire scar, and they present a significant hazard and challenge to firefighters, officials stated
“Firefighters will have some opportunities, though,” officials added. “The fire behavior analyst has advised that with higher humidity taking fine fuels, such as grass, out of the fire-spread equation, the fire will advance mainly from log to log. The large trees and logs that are currently burning will carry the fire.
“Crews have an opportunity over the next couple shifts to break that chain of fire spread in many areas. A lot of active fire remains on the landscape, but firefighters are feeling more optimistic with the reprieve in some weather conditions and the progress they’ve been able to make in the last couple days.”
There were 2,303 personnel battling the blaze as of Monday afternoon. There were 63 had crews, 142 engines, 15 helicopters, 32 bulldozers and eight water tenders battling the blaze.
There are 2,000 residences and 100 commercial structures threatened. Two commercial structures have been destroyed. Officials stated there were reports of damaged structures in Sugarloaf Village and assessment of the damage would be done.
Evacuation orders and warnings can change suddenly. Refer to https://tularecounty.ca.gov/emergencies/ for the Windy Fire Evacuation Warning Area Map. For more information call 2-1-1.
The following areas are under an evacuation order: Sugarloaf, Sugarloaf Mountain Park, Sugarloaf Saw Mill, White River, Idlewild, Posey, Panorama Heights, Poso, Balance Rock, Spear Creek, from the existing Hot Springs Evacuation Order west to King George Peak, south to County M56, including Oak Flat, Twin Peak, to Vincent Ranch at the Tulare-Kern Counties Border, east to Portuguese Peak, and back north to Dunlap Meadow.
California Hot Springs and Pine Flat areas. The evacuation order includes M-504 at Tyler Creek, Southeast to Pine Flat, West to M-56 and Fire Control Road, North up Tyler Creek Road. This includes structures, side roads, and attached roads.
Camp Nelson and surrounding communities. Johnsondale and Camp Whitsett, including M107 at Dome Rock, east to Lloyd Meadow Road (FS Road 22S82), south to M99 at Sherman Pass Road, west to M107 and M50. Ponderosa and Quaking Aspen. McNally’s from Sherman Pass Road to Corral Creek.
The following are under evacuation warnings: Both sides of the Kern River from the Gold Ledge Campground south to River Kern, Tulare County, at the Tulare/Kern border. The order includes all private properties, businesses, residences, structures, campsites, campgrounds, Forest Service roads, access roads, attached roads, and trails.
ROAD CLOSURES AND RESTRICTIONS:
The following roads are closed: Jack Ranch Road and Old Stage Road; Highway 190 and Rio Vista; MT99 at Gold Ledge Campground; abd MT56 at Fountain Springs.
Tulare County residents can sign up to receive county emergency notifications by registering at AlertTC.com. The daily smoke outlet is available at
For Sequoia National Forest closures refer to https://www.fs.usda.gov/sequoia for more information and a map of closed areas.
It has also been questioned why the estimated containment of the fire has been reduced from 7 percent to 2 percent. Officials stated the reduced containment estimate was caused by the fire's growth to the south.