Washburn Fire in Yosemite: Crews brave scorching summer heat to battle flames

'Direct sunlight is more fuel to the fire. It's hot, it's tiring. But you gotta do what you gotta do to protect the wilderness.'

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Saturday, July 16, 2022
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Firefighters on the front lines of the Washburn Fire are being met with steep, rugged terrain, dry conditions, and temperatures nearing triple digits.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Imagine a strenuous hike in Yosemite National Park, but carrying tools, 40-50 pound packs of equipment and your day's worth of water.

That's what fire crews battling the Washburn Fire are doing to face these flames.

Now they're bracing for the warming temperatures.

"We can only do what we can step by step," said Woodlake Fire Captain Alex Reyanoso.

Steep, rugged terrain is only half the battle for fire crews on the front lines of the Washburn Fire.

Dry conditions are being met with temperatures nearing the triple digits.

"Direct sunlight is more fuel to the fire. It gives more heat to us, it's tiring. But you gotta do what you gotta do to protect the wilderness," said Reyanoso.

Reyanoso is one of 1,500 pairs of boots on the ground, protecting the iconic Yosemite National Park.

"To protect the Giant Sequoias, to protect the wilderness in Yosemite, it's a great honor," he said.

His strike team, combined with crews from Coalinga, Farmersville, Selma, Orange Cove and Woodlake, was part of the initial attack on the fire. The work to build containment continues.

"Because it's so thick, firefighters have to cut fire lines to bare earth so roots don't carry fire underneath the firelines," said Mark Ruggerio with Yosemite Fire.

Air attacks continue to provide relief for crews on the ground.