SHAVER LAKE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A large group of people had to be evacuated from the Mammoth Pool area over the weekend as the massive Creek Fire grows to 78,790 acres and 0% contained, according to the Madera County Sheriff’s Department.
Evacuations and Road Closures: Mandatory Evacuations in place for the communities of Big Creek, Huntington Lake, and Cascadel Woods. Hwy 168 is closed 2.7 miles east of Prather below the four lanes. Visitors are advised that there is no access to the Shaver Lake area, according to the Sierra National Forest.
As people escape the flames, traffic was backed up on southbound Highway 41 from Road 200 to Highway 145, according to the California Highway Patrol. Travelers should expect delays.
A total of 207 people were airlifted from the Mammoth Pool area to Fresno with the help of the California National Guard and assessed for medical needs, said Forest Service spokesman Daniel Tune. The fire had crossed the San Joaquin River and made a run into the area.
The only exit route out of the area was blocked by flames, some evacuees had to shelter in place near Wagner’s Store and Campground.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office said 20 of the evacuees were taken to area hospitals for treatment.
The rest of the evacuees who did not need medical treatment were taken to a Red Cross shelter set up at the Fresno Convention Center with assistance from Fresno County and Fresno Fire, said spokeswoman Nicole Maul. They were given breakfast Sunday morning with the help of the Central California Food Bank.
Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the Chief of the National Guard, tweeted a photo showing evacuees in a helicopter as they fled the Mammoth Pool area. He called the rescue effort by the California Air National Guard, “simply extraordinary.”
Fire crews expect to be challenged today by steep, rugged terrain, thick fuels and high temperatures Tune said. A total of 800 personnel consisting of 25 engines, five hand crews, three dozers, two helicopters and three air tankers have responded to the blaze.
Members of the Air Force’s 146th Airlift Wing, 152nd Airlift Wing and the 302nd Airlift Wing, made 28 retardant drops on Saturday using C-130s in support of rescue operations at Mammoth Pool, according to a tweet from the 1st Air Force.
Local crews from Fresno Fire Department and law enforcement personnel from Clovis Police have also responded to requests for assistance.
The Creek Fire was discovered Friday night around 6:30 p.m., near Camp Sierra Road and Reddin Road in the Big Creek area, and has threatened 3,000 structures.
Southern California Edison’s Big Creek Facility has been evacuated, while the utility’s transmission lines are being threatened by the fire. Over 2,000 customers remain without power in the Shaver Lake area.
Edison crews are evaluating damage to its infrastructure, according to spokesman Reggie Kumar.
Due to the Creek Fire, Yosemite National Park has issued a fire advisory for areas south of Chinquapin, including Wawona, as the blaze creeps toward the park. The advisory is a notice of danger in the future and is not an evacuation order.
The park advises that visitors should be prepared in case an evacuation order is given.
The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in the south end of Yosemite will close at 7 p.m.
The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation order for all of the Shaver Lake area on Sunday morning. All residents and visitors are urged to leave immediately.
“There is an imminent threat to life and property due to the fast-moving Creek Fire,” the Sheriff’s Office added.
Other Fresno County communities under an evacuation order include:
- Huntington Lake area
- Camp Sierra
- Big Creek
- Florence Lake
- Ward Lake
- Portal Forebay
- Edison Lake
- Mono Hot Springs
- Kaiser and all campgrounds in the High Sierra area
- Alder Springs
- Mile High
- Meadow Lakes
- Big Sandy
- Jose Basin
- Italian Bar
- Dinkey Creek
- Wishon and Courtright Reservoirs
- Area West of Tollhouse, along Auberry Road west to Powerhouse Road
An evacuation warning is in effect for:
- Cressman Road
- Mono Wind Casino
- Tollhouse Road at Peterson Road down to Lodge Road
- Beal Fire Road
An evacuation center for people and small animals is established at Clovis North High School, located at 2770 E International Ave in Fresno.
The Madera County Sheriff’s Office reported that deputies went door-to-door for mandatory evacuation notices for the following areas:
- Italian Bar Road from Road 225 to Reddinger Lake
- Kinsman Flat
- Cascadel Woods
- Mammoth Pool
- Whisky Falls
- Clover Meadow and Surrounding Campgrounds
- Arnold Meadow
- Minarets Work Center
- Chiquito Campground
- Beasore Road North to Clover Meadow
- Huntington Lake
- Big Creek
- Beasore Meadows
- Bass Lake Basin
- Central Camp
- North Fork
- Sierra Sky Ranch (Road 632)
An evacuation warning has been issued for Mammoth Pool Trailer Park to Road 233 down Road 225, Rock Creek and Fish Creek areas. This means that there is a potential threat to life and property. Residents are urged to monitor the situation and be prepared to take action immediately.
Madera County officials said on Sunday that an evacuation warning is likely for North Fork. They added that if the fire continues to progress uncontrolled, Bass Lake could also go under an evacuation warning in the days to come.
The speed limit for boats on Bass Lake has been limited to 5 mph due to “fog-like” smoke and ash conditions amid the Creek Fire.
“We need to have our resources and personnel focused on the fire,” the Sheriff’s Office said. “A preventable water emergency would be a costly distraction.”
Access to Shaver Lake is closed to the public due to the fire, this includes Camp Edison and the North Shore.
Highway 168 is closed to travelers from Auberry Road to the east end of Huntington Lake, except for residents and emergency crews, according to Caltrans.
Evacuation Center Information
The American Red Cross has established a hotline for shelter information at 571-595-7401. Text your zip code to 888-777 for text alerts.
A temporary evacuation point has been opened at Clovis North High School in addition to the evacuation site at the Oakhurst Community Center in Oakhurst.
Clovis Rodeo said on Facebook that its grounds are open to large animals that have been displaced by the Creek Fire. Evacuees are advised that they need to enter at the north end of the rodeo grounds at the open gate that is across from the Clark Intermediate School parking lot due to construction.