Southern Sierra Fires – 10/1/2021


Maps and commentary by: Ryan Stephens

***Noon on October 1  ~ KNP Complex Weather Update by Incident Meteorologist Jason Straub

Watch the weather update here.

***10am on October 1 ~ Morning briefing video from Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Watch today’s briefing here.

***9:30pm on September 30 ~ Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks KNP Complex Facebook Update

KNP Complex Fire Announcement: Ground and air resources are currently responding to a 500-600 acre spot fire that has crossed the north fork of the Kaweah River, approximately two to three miles southeast of Eshom Point. Updates will be provided as information becomes available.

Looking northwest at the spotfire near the north fork of the Kaweah River.



*** 9:30pm on September 30 IR interpreter’s log


The map below is an overview of IR heat signatures captured at 2130PDT last night. Looking east over the fire, we see
growth within several sequoia groves and a large spot fire over the north fork of the Kaweah River (located in the north west KNP Complex perimeter in the map):


👆The Key in the upper left corner of the map explains color shading in regards to heat intensity and active growth within the KNP Complex perimeter. White perimeter line was yesterday’s perimeter. Giant Sequoia Groves are SHADED GREEN. Past 10 years of (Rx) prescribed fire is SHADED DARK BLUE, LIGHT BLUE PERIMETERS on the map show the past 10 years of fire history in the area👇

Zooming in to the Castle Creek area (upper center of the overview map) and looking west at active fire spreading through the grove.


Looking East along the northwest perimeter. Fire spotted across the river yesterday and was moving quickly in the direction of Eshom Point and the OHV Staging Area. Fire also has moved through the entire perimeter of the Pine Ridge + Skagway Groves and is actively burning in a grove that is named after John Muir.


Now is an important time to reiterate how prescribed fire played a big role in protecting the world’s largest trees. Looking back at the Giant Forest Grove, we can see plainly that the areas in BLUE (prescribed fires within the last 10 years) did a fantastic job keeping high intensity wildfire from burning into the grove.




***10am on October 1 ~ Sequoia National Forest

CURRENT SITUATION: The Windy Fire is 89,804, acres with 40% containment and is a full suppression fire. The fire is burning on the Tule River Indian Reservation and the Sequoia National Forest, including the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The fire perimeter increased 1,736 acres in the last 24 hours.
Early morning observations from the camera at Tobias Peak showed the fire burning actively. While it is October 1, conditions in the forest are more like what you would observe in August, very dry with warm temperatures and low humidity. These conditions will increase fire behavior today, especially in the chamise and chaparral brush type in the Kern River Canyon.
The top priority continues to be the southwest side where crews continue to make good progress securing containment lines and providing structure defense around Sugarloaf and Sugarloaf Mountain Park north towards Pine Flat and California Hot Springs. Crews are constructing and improving indirect (away from the fire’s edge) containment lines from M 50 (at the switchbacks) northwest to Lone Pine Mountain and looking for opportunities to construct direct hand line at the fire’s edge.
On the northwest side, crews continue to construct direct and indirect containment lines from Wheatons south to Lone Pine Mountain on the Tule River Indian Reservation. If conditions permit, crews will continue a tactical firing operation to help improve containment lines. Tactical firing operations allow firefighters to remove vegetation along the indirect containment line which reduces the threat of the fire advancing.
On the north side, firefighters continue tactical patrols (extinguishing any burning vegetation, stumps, etc.) along the Coy Flat Road (FS Road 21S94) northeast to Coy Flat. On the northeast side near Ponderosa, crews continue holding and improving containment lines east to the Lloyd Meadow Road (FS Road 22S28) and south to Johnsondale. Crews will continue tactical patrols extinguishing any burning stumps, trees and vegetation.
On the east and southeast side, crews continue structure defense in the Vincent Meadow area along Sugarloaf Road (23S16). In the Kern River Canyon, the fire continues to hold on the upper west slope between Tobias Creek and Flynn Canyon. Helicopters and the Bombardier CL-515, (Super Scooper) will continue dropping water and retardant on the upper ridge to slow the fire’s movement east towards the Kern River. Crews will continue structure defense in Fairview.
On the south side, the fire is burning in the 2016 Cedar Fire burn scar and crews are building direct hand line at the fire’s edge west towards Sugarloaf. Pockets of dead and down trees are burning outside of the containment line and firefighters are working to put line around those spot fires.
WEATHER AND FIRE BEHAVIOR: Very dry and warm conditions will prevail through the weekend. The smoke inversion will disperse in late morning, early afternoon. Winds will be light except in the Kern Canyon which could see gusty afternoon winds.

***7pm on September 30 ~ Sequoia National Forest

The Windy Fire is currently estimated to be 89,804 acres (a 1,736-acre increase from Thursday morning’s reported acreage). Containment is 37 percent. The acreage increase was primarily the result of (1) incremental growth on the eastern and southeastern perimeter, from Johnsondale south to Baker Point and slightly west along the southern perimeter and (2) a strategic firing operation on the western perimeter to prevent the fire from advancing further westward on the Tule River Indian Reservation.

Seventeen helicopters, one UAS (i.e., drone), two CL-415s (i.e., Super Scoopers), and a Cobra (an intelligence-gathering helicopter)—are assigned to the incident. Today’s clear skies made for a busy day for air operations. Helicopters conducted numerous water drops, particularly on the west side of the fire, as they supported the firing operation and other fire-suppression activities. The Super Scoopers were used on the southern two-thirds of the fire, primarily along the eastern side where the steep terrain above the M99 corridor and the Kern River is inaccessible to firefighters. The UAS, unlike the helicopters assigned to the incident, can detect heat sources through smoke. It surveils the perimeter, detecting isolated heat sources that the ground crews then locate and extinguish. It is also being used on this incident to fly over and assess the condition of the giant-sequoia groves.

On the southwestern side of the fire, crews are holding the fire within its current footprint and continuing to mop up hotspots in and around several small communities, such as Sugarloaf Mountain Park, Pine Flat, and California Hot Springs. There are 2,500 people assigned to the fire, the majority of whom are in the field, day and night, working hard to protect natural values and structures around the entire fire perimeter and attempting to suppress the fire as quickly and safely as possible.