Brush fire rushes toward Big Pine

UPDATE July 10 from CALFIRE –  The Fish Fire is 100% contained.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.


The Fish Fire (Southwest of Big Pine at Hwy. 395 and Fish Springs Road) is 1,103 acres and is now 85% contained. 

 Firefighters continued to make progress containing the fire today.  Some moderately strong winds occurred in the area this afternoon and firefighters were on alert for any hot spots near the fires perimeter that could threaten the containment line.  The fire stayed within the established containment lines and firefighters are continuing work to complete a line around the entire fires perimeter which will provide 100 % containment. Firefighters will monitor and patrol the fire area throughout the night and additional crews will be assigned tomorrow to complete containment lines and mop up hot spots.

 Hwy. 395 remains open in both directions through the fire area.  Motorists travelling Hwy. 395 are asked to slow down and exercise caution in the fire area south of Big Pine, as firefighters are still working in the area and along the highway


Incident Update
Sunday, July 8, 2012, 8:00 a.m.

Fire Information Line: (951) 377-8380

Fish Springs Rd, west of Hwy 395, south of Big Pine
Inyo County

1,103 acres
% Containment:
60% contained
Report Date & Time:
July 7, 2012, 1:59 p.m.
Expected Containment:

Under Investigation

Structures Threatened:
Structures Destroyed:
Fire Engines:
Fire Crews:

Water Tenders:

Total Personnel:

Evacuations: All have been cancelled.

Road Closures:   Hwy 395 is open in both directions.

Current Situation: Firefighters are continuing construction of a containment line around the perimeter of the fire, as well as mopping up hot spots.  Voluntary evacuations for the community of Big Pine were lifted at approximately 9:00 PM on July 7.  No structures have been damaged or destroyed by the fire.  There have been no injuries reported.  Hwy. 395 is open in both directions and motorists travelling Hwy. 395 are asked to slow down and exercise caution in the fire area (south of Big Pine), as firefighters are still working in the area and along the highway.

The Fish Fire (Southwest of Big Pine at Hwy. 395 and Fish Springs Road) is 1,103 acres and 60% contained.  The fire’s forward rate of spread was stopped by firefighters at approximately 7:00 PM, prompting the lifting of voluntary evacuations in Big Pine. Over 200 firefighters worked throughout the night putting in containment line around the fire and mopping up hot spots. The fire was mapped overnight and the acreage is confirmed at 1,103 acres.

Hwy. 395 is open in both directions through the fire area.  Motorists traveling Hwy. 395 are asked to slow down and exercise caution in the fire area south of Big Pine, as firefighters are still working in the area and along the highway.

No evacuation in place and no homes threatened. There have been no injuries reported.

***Update Julie Hutchison, CalFire – Saturday night

The Fish Fire is approximately 175 acres and 20% Contained.  Firefighters from CAL FIRE and cooperating agencies worked throughout the night to completely contain the fire.  Additional engines and firefighters have arrived from the San Bernardino Unit of CAL FIRE to assist firefighters who have been working the fire since it was reported at 1:59 PM Saturday afternoon.

(As of 10pm Saturday) The CHP continues to regulate traffic on Hwy. 395 in the fire area for both north and south bound traffic. The south bound lanes of Hwy. 395 remain closed due to the fire and south bound traffic is being escorted by CHP through the fire are utilizing the north bound lanes.  Delays are possible in both directions and drivers should exercise extreme caution when travelling on Hwy. 395 in the area south of Big Pine.    *Please contact the CHP for additional information on the closure and/or regulation of traffic as conditions can change.


UPDATE from Julie Hutchison, CalFire –

The Fish Fire is currently holding at approximately 175 acres

  • Voluntary evacuations for Big Pine have been lifted and the evacuation center at Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop is closed.
  • CHP will continue escorts on Hwy. 395. ***Please contact the CHP for up to date information as fire conditions could change requiring the highway to be closed

UPDATE: CHP is escorting traffic northbound but not southbound.  Changing fire conditions do impact Highway 395 travel.  Everything else is status quo.

For more information on the “Fish Fire”, go to the CalFire incident site:

UPDATE: 5:20pm –  ***The CHP is escorting traffic both northbound and southbound according to the Inyo Sheriff’s Department.  Officers ask that you contact the CHP for up to date information as fire conditions could change requiring the highway to be closed.  The cause of the fire is currently unknown.  At this hour, the voluntary evacuation order remained in effect for Big Pine residents. ***

*** Meanwhile, reports indicated that a truck caught fire on 395 near Gorge Road.  Traffic was reportedly diverted to old 395.  Some brush caught fire from the burning truck. Other reports indicated that the truck contained 48,000 pounds of french fries.  ***

From Poverty Hills, a huge plume of smoke revealed the extensive fire ahead.

As afternoon winds picked up, fire broke out in dry brush on the west side of Highway 395 about 5 miles south of Big Pine.  The fire moved fast toward the community.  At about 5pm the fire had reached about a couple of miles outside of Big Pine. Authorities are calling it the Fish Fire.  As of Saturday evening, the fire had burned 175 acres and was 0% contained.

Inyo Sheriff Public Information Officer Carma Roper said the fire started on the west side of the highway near Fish  Springs with a report coming in to the dispatch at 2pm.  Roper said Big Pine residents were under a voluntary evacuation order with a shelter set up at the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop.

Flames quickly moved north as the high afternoon winds whipped in from the south.

At about 2:30pm, the California Highway Patrol put into effect a hard closure of Highway 395 north of Independence and south of Bishop in the Keough’s area.  The fire had jumped over the highway south of Big Pine and burned the center divider.  Heavy smoke made travel through that area very difficult.

Highway traffic was backed up in long lines asvacationers and many others tried to reach their destinations on the hot and windy Saturday afternoon.

Ms. Roper said that the following resources are currently assisting: Big Pine Fire, Bishop Fire, Olancha Fire, Lone Pine Fire, Independence Fire, CalFIRE, the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Inyo National Forest, Bureau of Land Management, and Bishop Tribal Police.

The community of Big Pine survived a seriously damaging fire last March when fire swept into the town from the west and south, destroying  mobile homes and terrorizing community members threatened with the loss of everything.

In April fire destroyed a home in Big Pine.  The two men inside narrowly escaped.  With heavy  hearts, local residents watched the smoke move closer from the south.  With the report of CHP escorting traffic through the fire area, hopes went up that firefighters would soon have the blazes stopped short of moving into Big Pine.



27 Responses to Brush fire rushes toward Big Pine

  1. Katie Hawks July 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    We’ve been sitting over two hours on 395 and have only gone one mile. Just north of Big Pine. No movement in either direction.

    • Benett Kessler July 7, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      We’re talking to CalFire right now. They’re checking.

    • Benett Kessler July 7, 2012 at 8:16 pm #

      CalFire just confirmed that escorting is changing. Right now, 8:16pm, CHP is escorting northbound
      but not southbound. The road access is related to changing fire conditons.
      Benett Kessler

  2. Steve July 7, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    The ‘Center Fire’ in Big Pine was not last September. It happened in March, 2011.

    • Benett Kessler July 7, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

      Steve, Thanks for the correction on that. Benett

  3. Jen July 7, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

    Jjust made it through rather painlessly. Police escort both direction, but moving. Saw no signs of fire just a few fire response vehicles.

    • Adrienne July 8, 2012 at 9:13 am #

      We got down to Big Pine just after they closed it , around 3:30. Went back up to Mammoth, heard on the radio escorts, so turned around and got in the traffic headed south around 6pm, took 2 hours to get through. Hardley any smoke, one small tree burning. They could have opened up one lane going southbound, but thay don’t care about the problems they cause about being over-protective. My 5 year old had to go to the bathroom, as did several other children and adults, a car ahead of us had to get a jump from another motorist- This continued at least until 11pm? GET THE TRAFFIC MOVING! IT COSTS US $25 EXTRA IN GAS, AND THATS JUST US. Government officials are un-carin and inept. Does anyone else share my view?

      • Wayne Deja July 8, 2012 at 10:33 am #

        Adrienne….Unfortunatly,that’s how some things are done up here….lots of things get overblown and turned into a “potential emergency”….A few years back,there was a fire 16 miles from where I live,and heard on a scanner they were thinking of evacuating my town.I guess it’s good to be cautious,but sometimes it borders on the ridiculous.Worst thing is how MULTIPLE AGENCIES want to take charge and control.Another time,in my town,there was a multiple structure fire,and,as the fire burned,there were DWP,USFS,LPFD,BPFD,Olancha FD,CHP,Inyo Sheriffs,Fish and Game,Cal Trans, and Cal Fire employees all trying to tell people where to go,what to do,and be ready to evacuate the town.Makes you wonder what would all happen if there were a major REAL emergency taking place up here….my guess is it would resemble another Katrina.

        • JeanGenie July 9, 2012 at 9:44 am #

          I agree with you Wayne, But my voting thing doesn’t work. We saw a minor car accident in Bishop yesterday and law enforcement went about 70mph in the center divider of 395 by the Y to get there. Seems like more of a risk to everyone to drive like that when you are only 2 minutes from the scene, I believe you could cause a far worse accident.

          • Trouble July 9, 2012 at 11:45 am #

            You ought to see how fast the police race to the river for teenage drinking.

          • Wayne Deja July 9, 2012 at 12:18 pm #

            JeanGenie…..Thanks……Your about the only one that agrees with me…..For the others,don’t get me wrong…When there is a fire,or other emergency,it’s good to have law enforcement and FD there to aid.But in those cases,not so good when too many get involved with “policing” the area,especially if they are civilians or cop “wanna-bes”.When we had the fire in Lone Pine a few years back,I worked at a business a couple houses down from it,and if the fire advanced that way,we planned to get some of the expensive electronics out of the place….kinda rubbed me the wrong way when some forest ranger, or a cal-trans employee, or a DWP employee that happens to know he sheriff was there attempting to take control of the situation….not gonna happen.

      • Cindy July 8, 2012 at 11:03 am #

        As a resident of Big Pine, sorry you were inconvenienced, WE were busy packing up our houses, pets & neighbors. UNTIL you walk in our shoes, quit your bitchen.
        And a BIG THANK YOU to all the 1st responders. Next time why don’t you fly to Mammoth.

        • Trouble July 9, 2012 at 5:33 am #

          Cindy- I don’t think some people realize how fast sage brush burns. Top it off with a little wind it can almost fly. I have seen small sage throwing flames up over power poles. Like your blog :).

        • Mark July 9, 2012 at 11:25 am #

          Been there done that Cindy. Until you have proper brush clearence you’ll continue to rely on 1st responders. Some people never learn.

          • Cindy July 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

            Mark, “proper brush clearance” around houses had nothing to do with this fire, the John fire, last Sept. or the Center fire March 2011.
            We could have lost the whole town last March if not for the 1st responders
            So are you trying to say all wind driven wild fires are our fault?

        • Adrienne July 10, 2012 at 9:50 am #

          Dear Cindy,

          I did walk in your shoes during the Old fire in 2003. I live in Crestline and packed for 8 hours before evacuating and being kept from my home for 8 DAYS! Cal-trans said they couldn’t let anyone up to their homes ( to see if it was burned down or not) because the guard-rails were burned and thay could get sued. They also called for mandatory evacuations in 2007 during the Grass fire, but we stayed because once they close the road, you do not get back up. My neighbors cats almost died, I did not have a key to their house, but they let up some county employee to break into their house & feed them. So I think you should walk in MY SHOES!


      • pmjeff July 8, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

        The reason traffic is slowed, escorted or shutdown is for Firefighter safety. Yes im a fireman in San Bernardino County. Idiot drivers are always running intous on the side of the highway. You are lucky they opened it up so soon. if it would of been up to me it would still be closed…. get a clue!

        • Big AL July 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

          pmjeff ..

          I have the utmost respect for your job buddy but it isn’t all about firefighter safety, it is the safety for all .. firefighters and the public, so get a clue there. While there is fire fighting apparatus and personnel on the road way or adjacent to the road way, you close the road period.

          And you’re right .. I would have closed it completely until it was safe to do so .. but public pressure was what drove the CHP escorts. It could have been safe to do so by that time, when the fire had ceased to be a threat to traffic movements under control of CHP escorts, which is cool, but you don’t move traffic through an area effected with fire either being so close as to endanger people driving on the highway or is in jeopardy of the fire jumping the roadway.

      • Big AL July 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

        Some people just don’t get it anyways .. Wayne can verify that. I’m just glad they kept y’all safe instead of saying go for it if you feel lucky .. you could have turned around an went back to Big Pine. Otherwise you were inconvenienced a little bit .. and I doubt it cost you an extra $25.00 in gas .. if so .. get something better on gas.

      • Richard Reel July 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm #

        So how is it that all this knowledge about how to handle fires come’s from the same people who blocked every intersection in Big Pine by stopping in the middle of the road?

  4. Stephen-ie July 8, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    From Bakersfield, Kern County. I believe best thing 4 me. Stay home. No fishing until Calfire controls it. I hope tv 33 can get there news reporting on ROKU 2 HD.. It would be much easier to have the report. Thank You all.

  5. Jake July 8, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Would you guys please learn how to link to the full size images? Do you need help learning how to do that?

  6. Gina July 8, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Where was the fire in relation to the hatchery?

    • Benett Kessler July 8, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      I believe it was to the east and north of the hatchery. There was never any discussion about a threat
      to the hatchery or evacuation of employees.

  7. salblaster July 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

    i was in bishop saturday doin a little shopin and visiting the parents when their scanner went off around 2 and kept goin off for the rest of the afternoon. a wreck near fort indepedence,another fire near the gorge rd. possible fire near south st and canal east of bishop. it was a day full of emergencys but over the scanner they seemed to have it all under control. by 8 pm i called the chp road info number 511 which gives you up to date road status, very easy to get specific information. they said traffic being escorted one way thru fire area so i headed for lone pine had a 15 minute wait in big pine before traffic was movin. it looked to me like they stopped the fire just south of big pine dump, real close to town of big pine . if it were my house being threatened by wild fire the more responce the better,people stuck in traffic can just deal with. good job first responders and dispatchers.

  8. Enrico July 10, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    The lack of information about traffic conditions in a timely manner makes driving frustrating.
    If you know the road is closed you can decide what you do and have a different attitude to it than driving and being stuck in the traffic without knowing whats going on and where the road closure or incident is.

    In the afternoon we heard from some locals that there is a fire at Big Pine without any specifics where exactly and what the road conditions are.
    I check CA road conditions and there was nothing mentioned or affecting 395 in that area.
    As we got there around 6pm, we hit the traffic jam just north of Big Pine. I checked CA road conditions again and now it mentioned one lane traffic SOUTH of Big Pine. Luckly I checked the map and found a local road to get around the traffic jam and on Hwy168 heading East where we wanted to go anyway.


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