The Rough Fire east of Fresno near Highway 180 and Hume Lake grew to more than 60,200 acres Friday morning, and prompted an evacuation warning in areas around the Wishon Reservoir, which is located east of Shaver Lake.
Heavy smoke returned to Oakhurst and other parts of the central Mountain Area as firefighters carry out an operation to contain the blaze.
At 10 a.m., the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office issued an evacuation warning for the Wishon Reservoir area along McKinley Grove Road, between Dinkey Creek Road and the reservoir.
McKinley Grove Road remained open to motorists, but a deputy was on duty to warn drivers about dangerous conditions.
The warning is a result of a planned firefighting operation, where crews from a total 2,033 firefighters are working to tie two fire lines together, approximately two to four miles south of Wishon Reservoir.
“The procedure is causing extremely smoky conditions for the entire area,” the warning reads. “This is a necessary approach in order to gain overall containment. Firefighters do not anticipate any problems, but if the fire were to jump a line, residents would have two hours to leave the area.”
“We’re definitely seeing some smoke impacts in the Mountain Area,” added Heather Heinks, outreach and communications manager with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. “Right now, it’s unhealthy to sensitive groups but if you smell, or see smoke in local conditions, we advise people to take extra precautions for their health.”
Heinks said smoky conditions have returned to Oakhurst and the surrounding Mountain Area due to what is called “nighttime downslope.”
“You were seeing some clear days during the Rough Fire in the mountain communities because we saw upslope carrying it away from the Valley and east of those towns,” Heinks said. “But it’s started settling back in.”
Heinks said conditions could change over the weekend, as a new, cooler weather system is expected to help disperse hazy skies around much of the central Sierra Nevadas and Valley.
“We might see some great dispersion with that system,” Heinks said. “It’ll definitely help clear things up, at least a bit.”
On Friday, the lighting-caused blaze, which started July 31, scorched a reported 60,238 acres and was 25 percent contained. Costs of fighting the inferno reached $32 million, and continue to grow.
The Kings Canyon Lodge, an iconic building in the area, was consumed by flames last week, while homes and cabins still remain under threat.
Approximately 12,000 feet of hose was placed to protect the famous Boole Tree, Chicago Stump, and other sensitive wildlife habitats in the area.
Ancient relics remain in the grove, firefighting officials said, such as the oldest verified stump at slightly over 3,200 years old.
All campgrounds in Kings Canyon National Park are closed until further notice. The General Grant Tree, Panoramic Point, park trails, John Muir Lodge, Grant Grove Cabins, and businessees are open to the public.
For details on the Rough Fire, visit http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4456 or the Sierra National Forest’s website at www.fs.usda.gov/sierra.