Thunderstorms making fight to control South Fork Fire unpredictable

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The South Fork Fire is only a quarter mile from the town of Wawona, and firefighters say the threat of thunderstorms means more spot fires could pop up. (KFSN)

The community of Wawona remains under a mandatory evacuation order Monday night. Firefighters are slowly gaining ground on the South Fork Fire as containment increases to 17 percent.

The South Fork Fire is only a quarter-mile from the town of Wawona. Firefighters say the threat of thunderstorms means more spot fires could pop up.

Yosemite is a land of extreme drops and extreme wonder. Living in such a wilderness can also come with extreme danger, and visiting this park in any season brings tough challenges.

From the winter snow to the floods of spring, and now the fiery summer.

"There's always a fire in the park," Christian Thomas said. "No matter what, there is always a fire in the park, so no, not surprising at all."

The South Fork Fire was seemingly under control last Wednesday, but like the forest it inhabits, the flames refused to be tamed.

"I think there were some embers flying because of the high winds, starting little spot fires, and it was scary," said Christian Mueller, the manager of the Redwoods in Yosemite.
Mueller manages over 100 cabins with the Redwoods in Yosemite. When the fire started peeking through the dense brush Saturday, he started grabbing suitcases, even family urns people left behind.

"At night, we saw the flames on that hill and I knew they would have to evacuate the next day," he said. "It was not a question for me."

Part of living in a national park is the unpredictability.

"With beauty and nature, there comes a little bit of danger or the unexpected," he said. "But it is all part of the job and appeal."

Firefighters say the earliest people may be able to return is at the end of this week. In this battle of man versus nature, firefighters have a lot to overcome.

South Fork Fire


Size: 3,473 acres
Containment: 17%

Planned Actions
Holding operation and line construction continue on the west flank of the fire. Spot fires in Division X now have access and suppression activity will be expedited. Strengthening of contingency lines around the community of Wawona continues. Natural barriers are being utilized as much as possible. Security for area closures and security in evacuated areas.

Remarks

Crews are being inserted into the southeast portion of the fire in an effort to halt the eastern spread of the fire.

Thunderstorm activity is expected to cause erratic winds over the fire area through mid-week. Gusty erratic winds associated with thunderstorms could cause problematic fire activity in Division A and the firing operations should they materialize. Crews continue to spike in an effort to utilize as much daylight as possible. The west flank of the fire is approximately 1/4 mile east of Wawona. The fire continues to pose a threat to Wawona, the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. A combination of firing operations, air support, direct line construction and use of natural barriers are the current tactics being implemented to meet protection objectives.

Weather Concerns
A weak area of low pressure will remain anchored off the Southern California coast through Wednesday and bring a threat of thunderstorms to mainly the Sierra each afternoon and evening. Generally light slope and terrain winds can be expected through the period. However, winds will be gusty and erratic in the vicinity of thunderstorms. Little diurnal change in temperatures and humidity is expected through the period.

Projected Incident Activity
12 hours: Mandatory evacuations will remain in place for Wawona. Fire remains active along the western and eastern edges. Crew continue to strengthen lines with firing operations located east of Wawona in Division A. Heavy inversions continue to ground aircraft until late afternoon. When these inversions lift, fire activity increases.

24 hours: Mandatory evacuations will remain in place for Wawona. Fire remains active along the western and eastern edges. Crew continue to strengthen lines with firing operations located east of Wawona in Division A. Heavy inversions continue to ground aircraft until late afternoon. When these inversions lift, fire activity increases.

48 hours: Mandatory evacuations will remain in place for Wawona. Continue to aggressively suppress fire spread toward community of Wawona on the west flank of the fire.

Related Topics:
wildfireyosemite national parkYosemite National Park
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