Evacuation orders, warnings in place as KNP Complex Fire rages in Sequoia National Park

CBS47 News

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – The KNP Complex Fire continues to rage on in Sequoia National Park Monday night.

Several evacuation orders are in effect for residents in Tulare County, including the Mineral King area from Oak Grove Bridge to the end of the road in Mineral King Valley.

Evacuation warnings include part of the Three Rivers community, covering both sides of Highway 198 east of the intersection of the 198 and North Fork Drive.

“The way fires have been burning this year so erratically with changing weather you just don’t know.”

The sunny skies over Sequoia National Park turned gray as smoke from the Paradise and Colony fire rolled in.

The two fires, known as the KNP Complex Fire, were sparked during a lightning storm Thursday night.

Smoke from the wildfires can be seen from the entrance of Sequoia National Park, where park rangers aren’t letting anyone in.

Those inside the park were evacuated, marking the first time officials have had to do this since the Castle Fire last year.

“There is potential both of the fires could impact some of the groves here in the park, I hope that doesn’t happen,” said Mark Ruggiero, a fire information officer with the National Park Service.

The 130 firefighters will soon get extra boots on the ground come Wednesday when a type 2 incident management team from the northern Rockies region will join the firefight.

“The other concern is the infrastructure in the park, hotels, campgrounds, employee housing, radio sites, and things like that. And then the other big priority is the town of Three Rivers and other communities we gotta make sure that the fire doesn’t get down there,” explained Ruggiero.

Some aren’t waiting for warnings to turn into orders.

Mineral king Preservation Society Director Lisa Monteiro spent Monday packing up historical artifacts from the Three Rivers Museum.

“What a car ride down if got pulled over, I had a pickax, mining equipment, Native American baskets, cradleboards,” said Monteiro.

She took it to Visalia for safekeeping, just as she did last year during the wildfire.

“There’s so much history that goes beyond the walls of what we can fit into a museum, these trails, trees, I think of all the wildlife and the cabin community that is up there so it’s a nerve-wracking time but we are trying to stay cool and hope next week we put everything back,” Monteiro explained.

Preserving history as firefighters work tirelessly to prevent loss.

“it’s going to be a long haul with this fire. The good thing is that it’s September and we aren’t seeing July temperatures but some rain would be nice,” said Ruggiero.

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