More personnel were assigned to the Railroad Fire in Fish Camp by Friday morning but obtaining aircraft support has sometimes been difficult, even as the blaze continues its rapid growth east towards the Big Sandy area, officials said.
Officials said the blaze was at 2,971 acres - an increase of more than 800 acres from Thursday night - and 0% contained, with 437 personnel assigned alongside 10 hand crews, 4 helicopters, 35 engines, 6 bulldozers, and 12 water tenders. Air tankers would likely be placed on order throughout the day, but due to fires throughout the state and West Coast, the exact number that would be available was not immediately known.
“We anticipate progress today,” said Alex Olow, “We’re hopeful of increasing that containment percentage out of zero, but it’s really weather dependent.”
The number of destroyed structures remained at seven - six of them homes - from previous days, Olow said - but 200 structures are now threatened.
The fire was highly active Thursday, and grew mostly towards the east, officials said during a community meeting held that evening.
They said the fire will continue its spread in that direction today, towards Big Sandy and southeast towards Sugar Pine and Nelder Grove.
Big Sandy Campground was evacuated Thursday afternoon, and Sky Ranch Road was on an evacuation advisory. Officials expressed confidence during that evening’s meeting the fire would remain held along Jackson Road.
The cause of the Railroad Fire is under investigation. Evacuation shelters are located at the Oakhurst Community Center (which will be closed at noon today), and Yosemite Valley Visitors Center.
Small animals can be accepted at the Mariposa SPCA building, while large animals are being taken at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds, similar to the Detwiler Fire in July. Tanner Tweed can be contacted there at (559) 994-2794.
Another shelter, courtesy of the Central California Disaster Team, will be available at the Oakhurst Community Center.
Smoke completely blanketed areas in Fish Camp near the fire Thursday, and was particularly strong in parts of Oakhurst and Ahwahnee. Ash was seen falling in Ahwahnee and Oakhurst Friday morning, and other surrounding communities.
Those with sensitivity to smoky conditions are advised to consult with their physicians, and remain inside with the windows closed. Smoke is typically strongest in the mornings, officials said, and clears from the afternoon into the evening.
Temperatures are forecast to head into the triple digits throughout much of the Mountain Area Friday. Coupled with low humidity, firefighting activity is expected to increase into the afternoon.
Highway 41 remains closed in the Cedar Valley area, with no traffic allowed through to Yosemite National Park. Drivers are being detoured onto Highway 49 in Oakhurst along to the park’s entrance on Highway 140.
Air quality forecast
A strong high pressure system remains over the area which continue to bring in hotter and drier conditions.
Eye level winds in the afternoon are forecast to be 5-10 mph with gusts up to 20 mph and terrain-driven. Oakhurst, Mariposa and Ponderosa Basin will see more smoke impacts in the morning then clearing in the afternoon due to their location to the fires.
Still expect potential morning smoke in the Central Valley. The Eastern side of the crest may see smoke impacts in the evening and overnight. Intensity of smoke will depend on the activity of the fires. Dense smoke for short periods can aggravate symptoms for sensitive persons.
☆ South Fork (in Yosemite National Park): https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5502/
☆ Empire (in Yosemite National Park): https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5475/
☆ Railroad: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5553/, (559) 373-0040.