The Clover Fire burning in the Southern Sierra southwest of Olancha, continues to send smoke into the Eastern Sierra. Winds over the weekend pushed the wildfire over the crest of the Sierra onto the east side. More updated mapping, plus the fire growth over the weekend now has the size of the blaze listed at over 13,000 acres. 6000 of those acres are on the Inyo National Forest.
Lightning started the Clover on May 31. Forest Service officials have listed this fire as a Fire Use Fire, which means firefighters let the fire burn for the benefit of the forest. Despite being a Fire Use Fire, firefighters are aggressively working to contain the Clover Fire according to Debbie Santiago with the Sequoia National Forest. Santiago reports that 440 fire fighters are now working the Clover, but the fire has not switched over to a full suppression effort.
Ugly winds spread the fire to the east side of the Sierra crest. The plan, Santiago explained, is to contain the fire on the south and south east side of the fire to protect structures and homes, but on the north side, the fire extends deep into a designated wilderness. Santiago says that its likely that fire crews will not cut a fire line all the way around the Clover.
Since the fire has jumped the Sierra crest, management of the wild fire is expected to split. On the east side of the Sierra, Inyo National Forest crews are working for complete suppression, according to Mary Loan with the BLM. Some property owners west of Olancha/Cartago have been given notice that they may have to evacuate, but so far no one has been forced to leave.
Mary Loan says that the Clover has not grown much since Monday and that the fire has started to die down.
In the meantime, fire fighters are being stretched by a string of lightning caused fires statewide. In Mammoth, Fire Chief Brent Harper has received notice from the State Office of Emergency Services that there are 463 active fires burning in the state right now. 100 of those fires have no fire fighters assigned to them. With statewide resources on maximum drawdown, Harper says that fire chiefs were warned that if they have fire problems, other agencies would be hard pressed” to send anything. There’s not much help out there, he said.