27 August 2014

The Junction Fire did NOT burn through the SNAMP study area but did cause evacuation of the Sugar Pine fisher research team

The Junction fire started on August 18th 2014 outside of Oakhurst, California. The Forest Service’s Sugar Pine fisher research team was forced to evacuate that day when the quick moving fire burned to just west of their research office. They had 10 minutes warning and managed to grab the computer server, backup drives, and paper files on their way out. The team went back to the office the next day, which was still within the evacuation zone, to finish removing vehicles and equipment. Helicopters were doing bucket drops within half a mile of the office at the time.

Oakhurst FirePhoto taken by Eric Paul Zamora of the Fresno Bee
Dr. Craig Thompson, the lead on the fisher project, said that the Kings River fisher crew came up shortly after the evacuation to help close all the traps and pull cameras from the forest east of the fire. Given where the fire was, there was no immediate danger for captured animals, but just in case the winds shifted and the fire moved a different direction they wanted to be safe.

The winds played a major role in this fire as they shifted dramatically just after the fire started. Instead of burning upslope to the east, the fire turned south, right across Highway 41 on the east side of town. The fire was stopped west of Road 222 by the following day, with the help of rather spectacular air tanker drops of retardant. If the fire had crossed road 222, which connects Oakhurst with North Fork and Bass Lake, it would have entered some steep brushy slopes that lead up into the historic Nelder Grove area and the Sugar Pine study area.

Many thanks to the over 650 fire fighters who arrived to help within 12 hours and to the over 1,300 who eventually came to Oakhurst’s rescue. The fire was contained to 612 acres by August 25th. The cause is still under investigation. A map of the fire area can be found at: http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/pub/cdf/images/incidentfile1037_1395.pdf.

For addition information about the Junction Fire, please see http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_details_info?incident_id=1037.

No Comments Yet

Post a New Comment