Optimism from those battling the Rough Fire

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A sense of optimism from those battling the Rough Fire nearly one month since lightning ignited the flames. The nearly 56,000 acre fire is now 25% contained.

Looking at the heart of the Rough Fire the smoky ruins resemble a war zone. But as the fire gets trapped behind containment lines... a shift in strategy on the ground.

"We've got our arms around it, we've got resources on the ground it's just going to take a while to get control of 55,000 acres," said incident commander Mark von Tillow.

Looking at the fire map, the red is where the fire has burned. And surrounding it in checkered black and white shows the road closures. But on the south end, near Hume Lake, all the way to Balch Camp, firefighters say they've stopped the fire. And are confident they can keep it under control. The east side is where the fire is actively burning, toward Spanish Mountain and Cedar Grove. That rural area is where much of the fight is now focused.

"I've lived here for forty years so when they're talking about all these different places I do know where they are," said Pat Wass of Squaw Valley.

Wass is one of dozens who packed a Dunlap gym. Many of them were on high alert for evacuations but thanks to the containment lines on the south side it looks less likely they'll have to leave.

For hiker Fred Kraus, despite some progress on the front lines, the smoke from the fire still forced him to cancel his hiking vacation.

"You can't inhale smoke for seven hours," Kraus said.

But fire crews say they could have a handle on the rough fire in a matter of ten days. It might not be hiking worthy but with time neighbors say this forest can heal from the battle.


Full Video: Rough Fire Community Meeting
August 26, 2015 - Dunlap, California


Rough Fire Information

Size: 55,989 acres

Containment: 25 percent

Total Personnel: 2,050

PG&E and fire officials are evaluating the Balch Camp area for the possible return of the employees and families.

Incident Commander David Cooper met with Sierra National Forest employees at the High Sierra Ranger District Office and provided current information regarding suppression efforts for the North Zone. PG&E employees at the Wishon power facility were provided a fire update, including current efforts to protect their infrastructure and residences.

The North Zone is utilizing three wildland fire modules consisting of 10 persons each. These specialized modules are designed for remote work and will hike in to the John Muir Wilderness. Their priority is to stem the spread of the fire to the east using existing trails and natural
barriers within the Congressionally designated wilderness.

Approximately 320 citizens attended the community meeting last night at the Dunlap School regarding the Rough Fire. The meeting was broadcast live on USTREAM and is available to be viewed through today. The meeting was hosted by California Interagency Incident Management Team 3. Incident Commander Mark von Tillow discussed the current fire situation and the operational plan for the Rough Fire. There were remarks
by representatives of local fire and law enforcement authorities, Sierra and Sequoia National Forests, Giant Sequoia National Monument and Sequoia Kings Canyon National Parks.

The fire remained active overnight along the fire fronts, especially in the canyon areas. Additional resources are being assigned to the night shift by reallocating day operation crews in an effort to combat these conditions. A Fire Behavior Team (FBAT) worked to install analyzing
equipment for the Rough Fire. They are a unique fire module that measures pre-fire fuels/vegetation, active fire behavior (with sensors in the fire), and post-fire fuels/vegetation conditions during wildfires and prescribed fires.

All campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park are now closed until further notice. - The Kings Canyon Visitor Center will be open with modified hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. - The General Grant Tree, Panoramic Point, park trails, John Muir Lodge, Grant Grove Cabins, restaurant, market, and gift shop are open.

Sierra National Forest issued a closure order for the Rough Fire Area.

Black Rock Campground and Forest Road 11S12 (also called Black Rock Road) is closed between Balch Camp and McKinley Road.

Sequoia National Forest issued a closure order for the Hume Lake Ranger District, Jenny Lakes Wilderness and Monarch Wilderness, including Forest Road 12S01, 12S01E, and 12S19 in the Sequoia Highlands area.

The Hume Lake recreation area is closed, as is Hwy 180 beyond the junction of Hwy 198 (Generals Highway).

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