Eastern Sierra Fire Bulletins

Update 5:00 Thursday

With two sizeable fires burning in the Eastern Sierra, crews continue to report progress. John Louth with the Forest Service reports that the Big Trees Fire, which started on Tuesday in the Bishop Creek drainage is listed at 65% contained.

Louth explained that this fire is going well enough that no crews were assigned to fight it Wednesday night. During the day yesterday 2 helicopters and 35 fire personnel were assigned. Today the plan was to work toward finishing the containment line and knock down hot spots on the perimeter. Louth said that he expected only a few more shifts worth of work before the Big Trees fire is contained.

After this fire, and barring another large blaze, crews are expected to head home for some rest after five to six weeks firefighting, according to Louth.

In Mammoth, the Sherwin Fire looks like it has calmed down. Fire Officials report that the Sherwin was 78% contained at last word and remained at 347 acres in size. Minimal fire activity is reported.

Containment line around the perimeter of the fire is expected by the end of the day tomorrow. Some fire fighters will likely remain in the area until the fire is fully controlled, meaning that there are no more hot spots.

UPDATE 9:15 A.M. THURSDAY

Improving conditions are being reported by officials for the Sherwin Fire, burning a couple of miles south of Mammoth Lakes.

“We are switching from an attack mode to mop-up and rehabilitation work,” said Matt Corelli, Public Information Officers for the Southern California Incident Management Team, which is overseeing the blaze.

The 347-acre fire is 78 percent contained, with full containment expected by Friday, Aug. 8 at 6 p.m., according to officials.

Weather is expected to be favorable today, allowing firefighters to capitalize on yesterday’s good progress. Last night, personnel continued their efforts to construct and reinforce fire lines.

A portion of Sherwin Creek Road was re-opened, to the Laurel Lakes truck trail area.

Update 5:00 P.M. Wednesday

Fire fighters continue to report progress on the Sherwin Fire burning near Mammoth. At last word crews listed the fire at 57% contained. With updated mapping, the fire is now listed at 347 acres in size. Winds picked up this afternoon, but little new smoke was visible at last report.

At last word 625 fire personnel were assigned to the Sherwin. Today, fire fighters worked to build containment line. In some areas of the fire mop up work has already begun on hot spots with in the perimeter of the fire.

When the new numbers come in tonight, Forest Service Public Information Officer Matt Corelli says that he expects the containment of the fire to be up, the number of fire fighters to be down, and the acreage will stay roughly the same. The fire is expected to be fully contained sometime tomorrow.

Forest Officials report that the fire was human caused and remains under investigation. If anyone was in the Sherwin Lakes area on Saturday, August 2nd or Sunday, August 3rd and has any information, you’re asked to call the U.S. Forest Service fire investigator Paul Meyers at (760) 924-5536.

With a large number of firefighters in the Eastern Sierra to work the Sherwin Fire near Mammoth, a lightning storm yesterday sparked a total of six wildfires. Most of the lightning caused fires on Tuesday were single tree fires and quickly put out, the newest is a small fire spotted today near Mono Craters. The largest of the six was the Big Trees Fire burning in the Bishop Creek drainage.

With dark clouds and lightning strikes in the area, the Big Tress fire was burning in sage brush and pinyon pines above the Four Jeffrey Campground on Bishop Creek.
The Big Trees Fire had burned around 90 to 100 acres as of this morning and not growing, said John Louth of the Inyo National Forest. At last word, the fire was listed at 50% percent contained.

Shortly after the fire started, air resources were called in. SEAT planes could be seen dropping retardant on the downhill side of the fire. A larger P2V tanker was working the area as well. While the planes were re-loading in Bishop, a helicopter was dropping water on hot spots, again on the downhill side toward the Four Jeffrey Campground.

Terrain, and perhaps the brief but heavy rain may be helping the fire fighters. As the fire spread around a ridge, there was a steep rocky stretch that appeared to slow the fire.

Five crews worked overnight, with a total of over 100 personnel on scene. “They made excellent progress yesterday afternoon. The weather was really in our favor after the thunderstorms moved through,” Louth said. Today 45 fire fighters plus air support worked to get containment.

With the fire burning in the inside the perimeter and not spreading, no fire crews were scheduled to work the Big Trees fire tonight.

Forest visitors and residents are reminded that while lightning caused fires are unpreventable, all campfires below 9000 feet in elevation are restricted to developed recreation sites in order to lessen the chances of human caused wildland fires.

UPDATE 9:15 A.M. WEDNESDAY

Fire officials are expecting a crucial time today in the battle against the Sherwin Fire, burning a couple of south of Mammoth Lakes.

“Today is a ‘turn the corner type of day,’ ” said Matt Corelli, Public Information Officer for the Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team.

“We’re going to have a drier weather pattern Thursday and Friday, but we are expecting winds today. Our forecaster is calling for the winds to pick up about 11 (a.m.) with 15 miles per hour and gusts to 30 this afternoon. “We are worried the winds will push the fire over the line we’ve built.”

The Sherwin Fire is listed at 347 acres and 57 percent contained. Over 625 personnel are assigned to the fire.

Update 4:45 P.M. Tuesday

With updated numbers still rolling in, the Sherwin Fire remains officially at 5% contained, but Matt Corelli, the PIO on the Fire reports that he expects the containment on this fire to go up when the new numbers come in tonight.

Out on the line, Correlli reports that winds have picked up, but do not appear to affecting the size of the fire. He says that crews have made quite a bit of fire line today leading to the expected higher containment number.

The fire was listed at 270 at last word, but fire officials expect that number to change as well when they get their update at 6:00.

As firefighters work to get a handle on the Sherwin Fire, it appears that lightning may have started a fire in the Bishop Creek Drainage. A large black column of smoke is now visible above Bishop. At last word, this fire was listed at 5-10 acres in size. Forest Service/BLM FireFighters were assigned as were Bishop Volunteers and The Wheeler Crest Fire Department. Its possible that Highway 168 will be closed and there is discussion about bringing in air resources, if the weather cooperates.

UPDATE 8:10 AM TUESDAY:

The Sherwin Fire is now 5% contained as of Tuesday, 8 a.m., according to Matt Corelli, Public Information Officer for the Southern California Interagency Incident Management Team.

The Sherwin Fire is still estimated at 230 acres, with the 5% containment at the south edge of the blaze.

One minor injury is being reported. A firefighter working line construction was struck in the face by a branch and suffered a “little laceration,” Carelli said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The lead fire investigator for the Inyo National Forest, Paul Myers, is now leading the investigation. Anyone who was in the Sherwin area Saturday or Sunday and might be able to provide any information is asked to call Myers at 760-924-5536.

Monday, 5:00 p.m. update:

No new news on the size of the Sherwin Lakes Fire, burning outside of mammoth, but fire fighters do report progress.

Nancy Upham with the Forest Service reports that despite the fact the fire was officially 0% contained at last word, reports from the fireline were optimistic as crews have made headway on multiple flanks of the fire. She also says that the fire is not currently burning in the direction of town.

Upham says that the air attack has been a huge benefit and that Fire Fighters were making progress on the flanks of the fire.

At last word there were no updated numbers as to the size of the Sherwin Lakes Fire, but Upham says that it does not appear that the fire has shown significant growth this afternoon.

Due to the proximity of the Town of Mammoth Lakes a Type II Incident Management Team was ordered to bring in new resources and expertise for suppressing the fire. That Type II team has arrived and took over the operation at 4:00 today.

Fire resources have been released from the Telegraph Fire that threatened the Yosemite area last week. Upham says that those fire fighters have now started to arrive in the Mammoth Area.

Sherwin Creek Road remains closed, as do the three camps that were evacuated yesterday. The Sherwin Lakes, Valentine Lake, and Laurel Pass trailheads are all currently closed and no wilderness permits are being issued for these trailheads or the Convict Lake trailhead.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but with no lightning this fire is likely human caused.

The Town of Mammoth Lakes has set up a Public Information Line at (760) 934-8054 for updates on the fire.

Monday, 12:30 p.m. update:

Aerial mapping Monday morning lowered the Sherwin Lakes Fire to 223 acres burned, said Nancy Upham of the U.S. Forest Service.

The Sherwin Lakes Fire was first reported at 11:42 a.m. Sunday. The fire, located south of Mammoth Lakes, is not currently threatening the town, officials said.

The best news of the day is that crews are being released from the Telegraph Fire in Yosemite National Park and are on the way to Mammoth. “We are so lucky there are no other wildfires that need this level of support,” Upham said.

Battling the fire throughout Monday morning were five air tankers and four helicopters, Upham said. “They are really pounding it,”she said.

Three more air tankers were expected today for a total of eight battling the fire.

An additional 15 engines and eight hand crews (20 people per crew) were expected to be released from the Telegraph Fire and be assigned to the Sherwin Lakes Fire, said Upham. “We really need the help,” Upham said. “It’s been basically Inyo National Forest personnel (fighting the fire), and we don’t have nearly as many people as we need. It’s great news we have resources on the way.”

A command post has been set up at Mammoth High School and an evacuation center is also at MHS. Kids who were at the YMCA camp that was evacuated are being fed and housed by the Red Cross at the evacuation center, Upham said.

A Type II Incident Management Team is expected in the area this afternoon with a non-public meeting set for 4 p.m.

The Town of Mammoth Lakes has posted a Sherwin Fire Public Service Announcement on visitmammoth.com/psa. The Town also has a Public Information Line at 760-934-8054.

Upham also said the California Highway Patrol is asking to people to use extreme caution while traveling through the fire area. “If you must pull over and look at the fire, please be careful and use the proper safety,” Upham said.

Filed by Bob Todd at 7 a.m.

The fire that broke out Sunday south of Mammoth Lakes has burned approximately 250 acres as of Monday at 6 a.m., according to Nancy Upham of the Forest Service.

The Sherwin Lake Fire was first reported to 911 dispatch at 11:42 a.m. Sunday, Upham said. Crews battled the blaze throughout the afternoon and evening, but most crews were pulled off Sunday night due to safety concerns, Upham said. No official word was given on the number of personnel fighting the fire on Sunday.

Upham said a Type II Incident Management Team from southern California was expected to arrive this afternoon to manage the firefight. Orders have been put out fo seven engines and five hand crews (20 people per crew), Upham said.

Four helicopters were expected to resume the firefight Monday at 8 a.m., with four heavy air-tankers from Fresno expected by 9 a.m, Upham said.

No structures are threatened and no injuries have been reported. Sherwin Creek Road is closed, and Sherwin Creek Campground, Laurel Lakes Campground and the YMCA campground were evacuated Sunday. No wilderness permits will be issued for the area, Upham said.

No official cause of the fire has been released, but with no lightning in the area Sunday it is likely human-caused.

Filed last night by Benett Kessler:

The fire burning in the Mammoth Lakes area has reached between 25 and 30 acres according to the Mono County Sheriff’s Department at about 10pm Sunday. The fire reportedly started around 3:30 Sunday afternoon in the Sherwin Lakes basin.

KSRW’s Cleland Hoff was on scene and talked to Roger Thompson of CalFire. Thompson said that campgrounds in the area had been evacuated. Earlier, Thompson said crews were looking for hikers reportedly in the Valentine Lake area.

In a press release from the Mono Sheriff’s Department, officials said that they received a call that a fire was burning near Sherwin Creek Road in Mammoth. That was just after 3:30. At that time, the Mono Sheriff’s Department, Mammoth Police, Long Valley Fire, BLM and Forest Service responded to the scene. Officials also said that Sherwin Lakes Road is closed from Highway 395 to Old Mammoth Road. The YMCA campground and Sherwin campgrounds have been evacuated. There are no reported injuries and no structures threatened at last report.

Several aircraft dropped fire retardant on the fire until just before dark. Helicopters dropped water on the fire that officials said was burning toward the motocross and southern area toward the airport, not toward the Town of Mammoth Lakes.

Thompson had earlier said that 20 mph winds were pushing the fire toward the northeast. Again, he said that the fire was not moving in the direction of the Town but more south of the community.

Crews from Mammoth Lakes Fire Department, CalFire, the Forest Service and others continued to work this fire at last report. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

 
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