For nearly two months, thousands of firefighters have strained under high heat to control the largest wildfire in California, and their continued tireless work pushed the blaze further towards its end Thursday morning.
By 7 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, the Rough Fire east of Fresno had burned an estimated 143,559 acres and was 77% contained.
Forest service officials said five days of hot and dry conditions continued to promote active fire behavior within established containment lines, but thanks to massive burnout operations, smoke production has diminished and the inferno hasn’t crossed any lines.
Fatigue for some 1,070 personnel fighting the blaze - decreased from around 1,500 Tuesday - will be vigorously monitored, officials said, due to an active fire season, increased heat, and smoke exposure.
In the fire’s South Zone, near Cedar Grove, crews will continue to monitor and patrol in an aggressive mop-up operation near Division ZZ and Division U at the southernmost point.
Cedar Grove, at the end of Highway 180 and closed in early August due to the blaze, will remain closed until spring, officials said.
There is specific and focused mop-up to further secure the area around Grant Grove, which contains some of America’s oldest and most cherished trees such as General Grant, the second-largest tree in the world estimated at 1,650 years old.
Grant Grove was reopened earlier this week, and many visitors responded with thanks to firefighters for being able to keep all the revered trees safe.
“I didn’t think it would actually be open,” Australian Ly Mai, 60, told the Fresno Bee. “So we’re very lucky then ... there’s nothing like this in Australia.”
More areas are expected to reopen in the Hume Lake Ranger District over the next few details, with a list available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/sequoia/.
In the fire’s North Zone, near Rodgers Ridge, containment operations will continue as normal.
Officials provided an interesting breakdown of acreage burned by the Rough Fire, which started July 31 from a lightning strike.
* Kings Canyon National Park: 8,564 acres
* Sequoia National Forest: 82,288 acres
* Sierra National Forest: 51,645 acres
* State lands: 6 acres
* Private land: 1,057 acres
Details: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4456/, (559) 332-2028.