Southern Sierra Fires – 9/24/2021


Commentary by Chuck Ervin  *****  Maps and Captions by Ryan Stephens


Overview Map – IR Flight – September 23 – 11:11pm: Overview of 24 hour fire growth looking east.

MAP LAYERS: Giant Sequoia Groves are Shaded GREEN. The area between red and white lines around the perimeter of the fire show roughly 24 hours of fire spread:


***September 24 at 7:30am, Commentary from Chuck Ervin

Line was fired out from Ash Mountain (Park HQ) up to Fry’s Point overnight, in order to meet the main body of the fire backing down the southeast face of the Ash Peaks. East from there, fire spread has been slowed by high elevations, rocky terrain, and a concentrated fire suppression effort to keep the fight off the south face of Paradise Peak.  

To the north, as mentioned yesterday, fire crossed Burnt Point Creek and quickly ran back up Burnt Point to heavier fuels.  

I’m unsure of the spotty fire spread near Durst. From the linear arrangement and position in between rocky areas I would assume that this is a burnout operation, tying into the black lining we saw along Generals Highway yesterday.

Today’s Operations Map:

Yesterday the bulk of the work was in Division C in the south and Division S in the north. Division C’s primary objective is to protect outlying communities, including Mineral King, by surging up Mineral King Road.

Let’s take a look northeast from Mineral King at the KNP Complex. Note that Mineral King Road is seen midslope on the map just below New Oriole Lake Grove, passing through the Atwell Grove, and back around to Mineral King:

Division S has CAL FIRE double staffed dozers working 24-7 building dozer line within existing shaded fuel breaks between the fire and Wilsonia.

Finally, let’s take a look south towards the KNP from Wilsonia:




Commentary by Chuck Ervin  *****  Maps and Captions by Ryan Stephens:


Overview of 24 hour fire growth and heat looking east. Tule River Reservation is shaded BROWN, Giant Sequoia Groves are Shaded GREEN and the area between orange and white perimeter lines show roughly 24 hours of fire spread:

***September 24 at 7:30am, Commentary from Chuck Ervin

In the Peppermint area, some spread was seen last night past Dome Rock towards Ponderosa.  Based on the now public incident action plan, the new team managing the suppression effort displays some confidence in holding this area of the fire to the west towards the Black Mountain Grove.  Taking advantage of broken and rocky fuels along Peppermint Creek, up through the burn scar of the Slate and over to fuel treated areas near Black Mountain Grove, containment of this portion of the fire seems within reach.  

There is less certainty on the southern line, that is more exposed to diurnal winds and lacks the shading provided by the smoke column.  Here we saw another four miles of extension towards Tobias, with room to roam ahead.

Containing this portion will be a challenge, following the fire front west towards Hatchet Peak.  Here is a lot of southwest facing terrain, and heavy fuels.  Firefighters are on the clock to contain this spread uphill of California Hot Springs/Pine Flat.  Under current conditions, there are several days to achieve this goal.

Weather today continues a hot, dry pattern with diurnal winds that is forecasted by NWS Hanford to remain until Monday, when a trough is expected to bring some cooling and moisture.

Above image is for noon tomorrow (Saturday, September 25).  I’m including it because of the defined H-L pressure differential over the central Sierra.  Though weak, this could be an indication of unusual winds for Saturday.