UPDATE 12:30 PM FRIDAY
The Big Trees Fire was 100 percent contained last night,officials said.
The lightning-sparked fire burning in the Bishop Creek Drainage was listed at 100 acres and had a perimeter fire line by6 p.m. Thursday.
Both campgrounds in the area, Big Trees and Bitterbrush, have re-opened, said John Louth of the Inyo National Forest.
Local crews will continue to work hot spots within the construction line over the next couple of days, Louth said.
UPDATE 10:45 AM THURSDAY:
Work on the Big Trees Fire outside Bishop went as well as could be expected Wednesday and the blaze is under control.
“We are in really good shape,” said John Louth of the Inyo National Forest. “It went so well yesterday that we didn’t need a night shift last night.”
The 100-acre fire in the Bishop Creek drainage was 65 percent contained this morning. “We’ve only got a couple of shifts of line building left,” Louth said. “At this point crew are just continuing the line and knocking down hot spots near the edge (of the fire line).”
Campgrounds in the area that were closed when the fire broke out earlier this week were expected to be open by the end of today, Louth said. Highway 168 is open.
Two helicopters and 35 personnel worked the blaze yesterday. Crews are expected to be released soon. “They’ve been working four, five, six weeks. They need to go home,” Louth said.
UPDATE 9:30 a.m. Wednesday
Another fire broke out in the Eastern Sierra on Tuesday, this one outside of Bishop up Bishop Creek, likely lightning caused.
The Big Trees Fire had burned around 90 to100 acres as of this morning, said John Louth of the Inyo National Forest. The fire was listed at 10-15 percent contained, but Louth said that number would rise after more aerial mapping this morning.
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.
Louth also noted that with crews close by working the Sherwin Fire outside Mammoth Lakes, resources were quickly on scene. “The fire made an initial run, but they quickly knocked it down,” Louth said. “Last night and today hand crews are cutting lines to stop the forward rate of spread.”
Three air tankers and two helicopters battled the blaze yesterday, with more help expected today.
Two other single-tree fires were ignited in the area yesterday, but they were both quickly knocked down, Louth said.
FILED BY TOM WOODS TUESDAY AT 4 P.M.
At about 3:45 Tuesday afternoon, firefighters were called out to the Bishop Creek area to respond to a wildfire. With dark clouds and lightning strikes in the area, this fire was burning in sage brush and pinyon pines above the four Jeffrey Campground on Bishop Creek.
Winds pushed what fire fighters are calling the Big Trees fire across the steep hillside, igniting the pinyon pines, and sending a large often black smoke cloud into the sky. Fire Fighters from Cal Fire, the Forest Service BLM, Bishop Fire, and Wheeler Crest Fire, along with others responded. The initial report listed the fire at five to ten acres.
Shortly after the fire started, air resources were called in. At least two 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. One report heard on the scanner at 6:30 appeared to indicated that firefighters had halted the rate the fire was spreading.
There have also been reports of spot fires east of the main fire. Five handcrews and six engines have been assigned to the fire so far.