Aug. 1 update on French Fire

As of Friday morning (Aug. 1), the French Fire in the San Joaquin River drainage has burned more than 8,200 acres in steep, rugged terrain above North Fork.

Firelines have been built, and a burning operation to burn fuel will continue with the support air operations on the southern edge of the fire.

This anchor point and burnout operation is the highest priority in order to provide for the structure defense in the Hogue Ranch and Kinsman Flat area. Crews will continue building fire lines along the western edge of the fire. On the northern end of the fire, crews and air support will continue to build containment lines as the fire backs down towards the Windy Point Boat Launch at the Mammoth Pools.

At 3 p.m., that same day, an evacuation was ordered for residents living in the community of Arnold Meadow due to increased fire activity along the northern perimeter of the fire.

Forest Road 6S01 (Grizzly Rd) between Minarets Rd, which is the main travel route to Arnold Meadow remains closed.

A small fire camp was established at the Minarets Forest Service Work Center north of the French Fire to help reduce travel time to crews working the on the northern end of the fire near Mammoth Pools.

According to the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, the French Fire will continue to produce large amounts of smoke, which will impact local communities. Smoke is typically greater in the morning and evening hours. Plan outdoor activities for times and places with low smoke levels. Up-slope breezes occur during the day, which will often take smoke into higher elevations.

In the evening, these winds change direction and bring smoke down slope to lower elevations.

The smoke levels are dependent on winds and the inversion layers. Smoke from wildfires contains particulates and ozone precursors. Residents are urged to be aware of their local conditions. People with existing respiratory conditions, young children and elderly people are especially susceptible to health effects from these pollutants. Air District officials urge residents to follow their doctors’ orders when exposed to wildfire emissions.

Protecting your lungs from wildfire smoke:

The California Department of Public Health warns that wildfire smoke can not only irritate your eyes, nose, throat and lungs, it can make you cough and wheeze, and can make it hard to breathe. If you have asthma or another lung disease, or heart disease, inhaling wildfire smoke can be especially harmful.

Staying indoors and reducing physical activity are the best ways to protect your lungs from wildfire smoke. Wearing a special mask called a “particulate respirator” can also help protect your lungs from wildfire smoke.

How to Choose the Correct Mask to Protect Your Lungs:

Choose a mask called a “particulate respirator” that has the word “NIOSH” and either “N95” or “P100” printed on it.

Choose a mask that has two straps that go around your head. Do not choose a mask with only one strap or with straps that just hook over the ears.

Choose a size that will fit over your nose and under your chin. It should seal tightly to your face. These masks do not come in sizes that fit young children.

Do not use bandanas (wet or dry), paper or surgical masks, or tissues held over the mouth and nose. These will not protect your lungs from wildfire smoke.

If you have a heart or lung problem, ask your doctor before using a mask.

For more information about protecting yourself from wildfire smoke, call your local health department.

Particulate respirator masks are available at Coarsegold Pharmacy in Coarsegold (559) 692-2479; multi-purpose respirator masks are available at True Value in Oakhurst (559) 683-7117.

Residents can check the District’s wildfire page at for information about any current wildfires and whether they are impacting the Valley.

The French fire was reported by Shuteye Peak Lookout at about 5:45 a.m. Monday, July 28.