TULARE COUNTY, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — The SQF Complex Fire continued to burn overnight in the mountainous region of Tulare County, threatening structures and creating embers that can spread fire about a half-mile away.
The fire, consisting of the larger Castle Fire and the smaller Shotgun Fire, has scorched a total of 133,488 acres and remains 14% contained as of Saturday.
The blaze began on Aug. 19 from lightning and is burning in the Sequoia National Forest and a section of Inyo National Forest.
“Active” fire activity continued to be reported out of the Castle Fire as it continued to move south toward Ponderosa, Camp Nelson and Pyles Boys Camp.
Fire crews reported that a part of the fire near Camp Nelson and Pierpoint was kept active due to cloud cover but has moderated compared to previous days.
Officials plan to focus on protecting structures that are immediately threatened by flames.
Flames also continue to down Slate Mountain to the south and east. This “east finger” threatens to align with the slope and cause an uphill run toward Ponderosa. Control burn operations continue around the community for structure protection.
Officials said the winds will align with the Needles Ridge just east of Ponderosa and push the flames to the Kern River.
Fire spread along the western section of the fire, stretching from Three Rivers to Springville, was limited overnight due to moderate humidity recovery at all elevations, officials said. Sunny skies on Saturday are expected to increase fire activity but will allow for control burn operations to continue once the vegetation dries out.
The blaze continued to be active during the daytime with a short-range spread of burning embers that spread flames away from the main fire. Some larger pieces of ember were seen by firefighters traveling up to a half-mile away.
Fire spread was also increased by a large amount of dead standing trees and dead material on the ground in steep inaccessible hillsides.
Southwest winds will help firefighters in their control efforts and push the fire and smoke to the northeast.
The smaller Shotgun Fire continued to show moderate growth as it burns as surface fire along the forest floor.
A total of 1,446 fire personnel consisting of 98 engines, 36 water tenders, 26 hand crews, 26 dozers, nine helicopters and eight other units are on the fire line.
Evacuation orders are in place for the following communities:
- Pyles Boys Camp
- Sequoia Crest
- Alpine Village
- Redwood Drive
- Lloyd Meadows
- Cedar Slope
- Camp Nelson
- Rogers Camp
- Mountain Aire
- Doyle Springs
- Mountain Home
- Coy Flat
- Highway 190 along the south from the intersection of Balch Park Road, north to Blue Ridge Lookout, east to Moses Mountain, and south to Highway 190 at Mahogany Flat
- Portions of Three Rivers, including south and east from 198, east to south of the Fork Campground, including South Fork Drive, Horn, Cinnamon Canyon, and Cahoon Mountain, and adjacent roads
Evacuation warnings are also in place for the following areas:
- Remaining areas of Three Rivers that do not fall under the mandatory evacuation order
- Springville (All points between Globe Drive and Balch Park Road)
- Silver City
- Mineral King
Temporary evacuation points have been established at:
- Porterville: Porterville Community College, 100 E. College Ave. Porterville, CA. (831) 220-4477
- Exeter: Exeter Memorial building, 324 N. Kaweah Ave. Exeter, CA. (831) 220-4477
Animal evacuation points:
Small animal: Tulare County Animal Shelter, 14131 Ave 256 Visalia, CA (559) 636-4050
South County – Porterville Fairgrounds, 2400 Teapot Dome Ave. Porterville, CA.
North County – Woodlake Rodeo grounds, 19400 Ave 398 Woodlake, CA. (Livestock)
Current road closures are as follows:
- Highway 190 at Balch Park
- Highway 190 at Rio Vista Road/Bridge Lane in Springville
- Balch Park & Bear Creek
- Balch Park & Yokohl
- Mountain 50 & 107
- Mountain 99 & Sherman Pass, Sherman Pass & Cherry
- Cherokee Oaks off Highway 198
- Highway 198 in Three Rivers through Woodward Gate on the Generals Highway
- The Generals Highway from Sequoia National Park entrance in Three Rivers to the Highway 180 junction
- Highway 180 through Grant Grove, including Cedar Grove, in Kings Canyon National Park
- Mineral King Road is closed at the Sequoia National Park boundary