Creek Fire updates: Wildfire stays at 291,426 acres while containment improves to 39%

Joshua Tehee
·7 min read

The Creek Fire remained at about the same size while containment improved slightly, Cal Fire announced during a Friday evening news conference.

Burning for a third straight week in the Sierra National Forest, the Creek Fire stayed at 291,426 acres and was 39 % contained, a daily improvement of 3%.

The Creek Fire, located near Shaver and Huntington lakes and toward the southern border of Yosemite National Park, is not expected to reach full containment until the end of October.

There currently are 3,263 personnel combating the wildfire.

“The fire really has not grown that much over the past couple of days,” said Dean Gould, U.S. Forest Supervisor and Agency Administrator. “And the acreage that has increased, to some degree, that’s intentional.

“Meaning, it’s the burning operations that we’re doing. Very positive sign there. The percent containment, it’s going up — an outstanding trend.”

Creek Fire Incident Briefing 9.25.20

Creek Fire Incident Briefing 9.25.20

Posted by U.S. Forest Service - Sierra National Forest on Friday, September 25, 2020

On Friday morning, the wildfire was at 291,426 acres and 36% containment as it was Thursday evening, according to Cal Fire.

Many points of the fire line continue to see little progress and re-rentry and repopulation efforts continued on Friday, especially in the southern zone.

Kaiser Pass Road remains a critical travel route, out toward Edison Lake and Mono Hot Springs, and the fire is now burning within miles of the High Sierra Ranger Station. This was predicted, Cal Fire said, and resources have been assigned to hold the fire on the road and protect resources and structures in the area.

▪ Progress is being made on the nearby SQF Complex Fire, which includes the Castle and Shotgun fires and has been burning in and near the Sequoia National Forest for more than a month. As of Friday morning, it had burned 144,777 acres and was 36% contained.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday night downgraded some evacuation orders and removed the evacuation warning for Springville between Globe Drive and Back Park Road.

Evacuation warnings have been left in place for Balch Park Road from Highway 190 to Yokel Valley Road; Balch Park Road below Blue Ridge Road and Bear Creek Road below SCICON.

People in those areas are able to return to their homes, but should be ready to evacuate should fire conditions change. These areas will continue to have checkpoints and only residents with proof of residency are allowed to enter.

The Bullfrog Fire, east of Shaver Lake near Courtright Reservoir, has burned 1,185 acres and is 30% contained, according to the incident report online.

8:40 p.m.: Repopulating Shaver

Re-population efforts are expected to begin Sunday for Shaver Lake, Pine Ridge, and Cressman’s, according to Jean Rousseau, Fresno County Administrative Officer.

The Shaver Lake sewer plant is operating in limited capacity, with some still without service, Rousseau added.

“We’re excited to start the repopulation process, but we want to warn residents to be careful on the roads, Rousseau said. “There’s a lot of utility folks and public safety folks who are driving on this road.”

6:15 p.m.: Caring for animals at Reedley College

There are 66 displaced cattle being taken care of by Reedley College’s Agriculture Department, according to the junior college.

Among the cattle being attended to is a three-week-old calf named “Stuart,” who lost his mother in the Creek Fire.

5:50 p.m.: Free bottled water

Due to the Creek Fire’s impacts on the water system, Fresno County is providing free bottled water for residents at the following locations:

  • Bald Mountain Fire Station (49167 Auberry Road)

  • Pine Ridge Elementary (45828 Auberry Road)

  • Cressman’s (36088 Tollhouse)

  • Shaver Lake Community Center (41344 Tollhouse Road)

2:40 p.m. Auberry Branch Library reopens with limited service

The Fresno County Public Library will reopen the Auberry Branch Library on Monday.

The library will open and resume limited services. Customers can reserve books, CDs, DVDs and other library materials online and pick up items at the library.

The Auberry branch was one of three libraries that closed Sept. 8 due to the Creek Fire.

The Big Creek branch and the Shaver Lake branch libraries remain closed.

All materials on hold at those branches will still be available once the libraries are open again. Library users can have any item sent to any of the library’s remaining locations. Wi-Fi is available for customers who need access to the internet at all open branches.

2:15 p.m.: Re-entry continues for several Fresno County areas

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office has identified several more safe zones within the Creek Fire and and will be allowing short-term visits into these areas beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Residents in zones F2L, F2M, F2N, F7D and F7G who have had their homes destroyed will be granted the temporary access with identification and proof of residence. Check-in is at Foothill Elementary School, 29147 Auberry Road in Prather.

Those entering safe zones are urged to wear pants, a long-sleeved shirt and sturdy close-toed shoes and bring a second set of clothes or Tyvek coveralls and to personal protective equipment (goggles, face masks, gloves, etc.).

Residents will be able to take items from the property in boxes and bags, but not loaded up on trailers.

All visitors must check out at a location designated by 4 p.m.

A complete list of evacuation orders, warnings and zones can be found on the Creek Fire Evacuation map.

10:30 a.m.: Mariposa heli-base closes as winds change; fire moves toward Mount Tom

The Creek Fire actively burned in the northern section of the south zone over Thursday night, torching single and group tress within the interior of the existing perimeter, according to a CalFire update Friday morning.

The fire is expected to progress south of Mount Tom and could reach the Portal Forebay. On the eastern side of the fire, progress will be seen toward the Dinkey Lake Wilderness and Florence Lake, where crews are working to build and improve containment lines.

Smoke conditions are expected to increase along the 41 Road Corridor in the fire’s north zone as winds begin to shift to the northeast creating a down-sloping wind on Saturday.

Crews are working to extend the containment line north of Peckinpah Meadows.

Air operations will assist firefighters in the north zone on Friday, weather permitting. This includes the use of a PSD (plastic sphere dispenser), an ignition device for areas too dangerous for firefighters, and a Cobra helicopter with an infrared camera to capture any non-visible hot spots.

The Mariposa heli-base will terminate close Friday, with helicopters relocating to Mammoth Lakes Airport. The move comes in response to the expected wind change through the weekend and is not a result of any increased threat of fire progression, CalFire said, though the fire is currently 10 to 12 miles west of Mammoth Lakes, where conditions continue to be monitored closely.

8:15 a.m.: Yosemite reopens; Forrest Service extends closures

Yosemite National Park re-opens Friday morning after being closed for a week due to thick smoke and poor air quality. Day-use reservations are still required to enter the park at this time, what were implemented earlier this year due to COVID-19.

Mariposa Grove remains temporarily closed due to the Creek Fire.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service extended the closure of nine national forests, including Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra. Being in the forests, or on road and trails inside the forests is prohibited. The order runs through Sept. 30.

8 a.m.: Air quality at moderate levels for most of the Central Valley

Friday is expected to be another day of moderate air for all of the Central Valley, save for Sequoia National Park and forest, which is predicted to be unhealthy for sensitive groups. The Air Quality Index is expected to once again to “good” in San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties.

As of 7 a.m. Fresno was in the good range of the AQI and its PM2.5 particulate level was reading zero, according to the Real-Time Air Advisory Network.

The National Weather Service is predicting wind flow turning offshore early next week, which will transport smoke from Sierra fires are in a more westerly direction. The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has an air advisory in place until the fire are out.