Tag Archives: rough fire

Officials defend Rough Fire efforts

Rough Fire now over 151 thousand Acres

Top land managers are offering a Op/Ed defending and explaining the response to the Rough Fire.  The fire is now over 151 thousand acres and listed at 87% perimeter containment.  The lighting caused fire started on July 31st.   The forest supervisors and superintendent felt there was a need to clarify some common misconceptions about the Rough Fire.

The Rough Fire: The fire that continually defied suppression efforts.

We want to recognize the residents of east-side communities who lived with smoke from the Rough Fire for many weeks and we thank you for your patience while numerous valiant efforts to contain the fire were made.

We also understand that smoke affects one of the primary attractions of the east-side, which is the broad spectrum of recreational opportunities that people from throughout the world come to experience.

However we must dispute several sentiments shared with various east-side media outlets that suggest that this fire was a managed-lightning fire for resource benefit.

In particular, we must refute the idea that our firefighters did not do enough or that we, as land managers, underestimated this fire in initial attack and over the following weeks.

Allow us to share with you of the nature of the fire response.

When lightning ignited seven fires on the Sierra National Forest on July 31st, firefighters quickly contained all but one and fire managers suspected that one was going to be a problem.

Kings Canyon Drainage is known for its stunning beauty because of its dramatic steep cliffs that draw visitors from the world to enjoy this stunning scenery. It is also documented as the largest unbroken vertical rise in North America.

To a firefighter, it’s a no man’s land: steep, technical terrain that has been known for injuring firefighters over the years. It’s so steep that “rollouts” (burning material that gets loosened, rolls down the steep slope, and runs back up the hill) are a constant concern for fire crews. In fact, it is exactly how the fire progressed down the canyon. Aircraft and firefighters themselves can sometimes push the rollouts on these cliffs.

These conditions make it impossible to establish an anchor point for a firefighter to start a containment line. It’s not terrain that firefighters can safely engage a fire.

Add the fourth year of a drought. Add that this was ground zero for the worst die off of trees seen in the southern Sierra. Earlier this year, the U.S. Forest Service reported that 12 million trees had died in the southern Sierra Nevada, with areas along the Kings Canyon River Drainage hardest hit. Driving along the river drainage, you will see areas with up to 60% tree mortality. This area had missed several fire cycles, meaning there was a thick bed of dried fuels mixed with dead trees. Add continuous days of 100 degree (or more) temperatures.

Firefighters think about weather, fuel, and topography when trying to access fire behavior. The Rough Fire presented the worst of all three.   When fire managers added this all up, they knew they had a challenging fire to deal with. Never for a moment, and contrary to rumors, did fire managers ever consider anything but full suppression.  The problem was how. It was assessed by crews on the ground and by air, they reported the terrain too steep and that direct attack was not an option for safety reasons.

Aircraft cannot do it alone. Helicopters and tankers can slow the fire’s growth and reduce its intensity, but firefighters need to construct the containment line to stop the fire’s growth.
Once the fire became established, crew after crew of firefighters reported that they had never seen fire behavior like they were witnessing. It crossed dozer lines, roads, and rivers with incredible ease.

Firefighters found themselves working to defend Cedar Grove, Hume Lake, Grant Grove Village and Wilsonia, Balch Camp, communities near Wishon, the PG&E Power Plant, and Dunlap.
As the Rough Fire approached the sequoia groves of Giant Sequoia National Monument and in Kings Canyon National Park, firefighters worked to get the best fire effects possible. Giant sequoias are fire-adapted and germinate with the heat surge from the fire than opens the cones in the tree and releases the seeds to the nutrient-rich ash bed below—the catch was ensuring that this fire wasn’t too intense even for the sequoias.

Some of these communities experienced air that ranged from unhealthy to hazardous. Grant Grove Village and Wilsonia were evacuated first for smoke and remained evacuated for fire.
Numerous crews, including those on initial attack, made every effort they could to contain this fire. Many crews have been away from loved ones for most of the summer responding to fires throughout the west, many of which have also grown larger than historically seen and displaying unprecedented fire behavior. We are particularly grateful that, to date, our firefighters will make it home to their families and loved ones. One injury, in particular, reminded us how complex this terrain is; with the rescue being conducted by a roped-in technical rescue team.

So, we thank you for your patience and we recognize that you too have been affected by this fire. We also hope you will also take a moment to be grateful to all the dedicated men and women who worked tirelessly this summer to protect our communities and our infrastructure.

Dean Gould, Forest Supervisor of Sierra National Forest.
Kevin Elliott,  Forest Supervisor of Giant Sequoia National Monument/Sequoia National Forest.
Woody Smeck, Superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

rough fire, drought 2015, sierra national forest, sequoia national monument, kings canyon national park

Fire Map for Wednesday, August 19

California Wildfire map for Wednesday, August 19

Firefighters statewide are battling fires throughout the state of California.  Locally the Rough fire in Fresno County is producing smoke in the Eastern Sierra and is now threatening structures near Hume Lake.  The Walker fire near Lee Vining is now 35% contained and the Eagle 2 fire near Bridgeport is holding at 120 acres.


fire wed

california wildfires, drought 2015, walker fire, rough fire, eagle 2 fire

Friday, August 14 Fire Map

Current California Fire Map

Smoke filled the Owens Valley Thursday evening as the Rough Fire continues to grow on the Sierra National Forest north of Hume Lake.  The lightning caused Rough Fire started back on July 31st and has grown substantially in recent days.

The Bridgeport area Eagle 2 fire is now over 150 acres in size.  Officials now list lightning as the cause of the Eagle 2 fire.  The fire burning in the buckeye Canyon west of Bridgeport took off on Wednesday, August 12th after lighting from earlier in the week sparked the blaze.


eagle 2 fire, rough fire, drought 2015, california fire map, us forest service

Thursday, August 13 Fire Map

Daily Fire Map

Today’s fire map shows California’s active incidents.  The map updates the size of the Rough Fire on the Sierra National Forest north of Hume Lake.  That lightning caused fire from July 31st continues to grow and produce smoke and haze in the Eastern Sierra.

Bridgeport’s Eagle 2 fire started around noon Wednesday, and as of mid-morning Thursday is listed at 126 acres.  The Eagle 2 fire has not been added to the map.


us forest service, cal fire, rough fire, cabin fire, drought 2015

Today’s Fire Map

Wednesday, August 12th California Fire Map

The Rough Fire is producing smoke that is making  its way into the Eastern Sierra.  The lightning caused Rough Fire located in Fresno County, north of Hume Lake is listed at 0% containment.  While the Rough fire started back on July 31th, it really expanded over the past weekend.  Smoke from the Rough fire first darkened Eastern Sierra views mid-afternoon Sunday.


us forest service, rough fire, eastern sierra news, drought 2015

Rough Fire Growing, Pumping Smoke into Eastern Sierra

Rough Fire causing Haze in the Eastern Sierra

The lightning caused fire near Hume Lake is having an effect on Eastern Sierra air quality.  The fire started back on July 31st, but has grown rapidly in recent days.  Here is the latest Forest Service update on the Rough Fire:


At this time the fire continues to follow the terrain, creating a mosaic effect between burned and unburned fuels.  It continues to grow at a slow to moderate rate of spread in all directions; moving north towards Spanish Mountain; east into the Monarch Wilderness, crossing over Brush Canyon and backing down to Tombstone Creek; west into Rough Creek and south towards Kings River.  A rapid rate of spread can be anticipated if the terrain, fuels and weather align together.

Wednesday additional overhead from a National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) team will join the Sierra National Forest, Type 3 organization in managing the fire.


Currently there are no closures on the Sierra or Sequoia National Forests.  Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks remain fully open with no closures.

Visitors may experience smoke impacts in many popular recreational areas including Wishon Reservoir, Hume Lake and Cedar Grove area. For air quality updates visit http://www.valleyair.org/aqinfo/forecast.htm for more information.

 Fire Restrictions

Fire restrictions are in place for the Sierra National Forest.  Campfires are only allowed in designated developed recreation sites.

Acres burned:  5,226
Containment:  0%
Fire Start:  July 31, 2015
Cause:  Lightening
Total personnel: 217

COVER PHOTO BY GARY YOUNG.  Monday Evening view from Bishop.

rough fire, us forest service, drought 2015, hume lake, sierra national forest

Current Fire Map

Fires Rage Statewide

The Rough fire grew substantially Sunday.   Fire officials indicate the fire burning north of Hume Lake in Fresno County grew approximately 2,500 acres Sunday.  Smoke from the Rough Fire made its way into the Eastern Sierra mid-afternoon Sunday.  The Rough Fire is currently listed at 0% containment.  The lightning caused fire that started back on July 31st is now 3,777 acres with 282 firefights assigned.

The Willow Fire near Bass Lake and the Cabin Fire in Sequoia National Park are now both over 90% contained.  Both Fires produces a large amount of smoke in the Easter Sierra.  The Willow fire is 95% contained at 5,702 acres and the Cabin Fire is 96% contained at 5,871 acres.  Officials note that while the Cabin Fire is nearly 100% contained, the interior of the fire will continue to smolder.  That will lead to limited residual smoke to the Southern Owens Valley.

The map below details fires statewide.


view of Rough fire Sunday from Hume Lake. Photo from “Lookouts R Us” Facebook page.
us forest service, rough fire, willow fire, cabin fire, owens valley news, california fires