Railroad Fire closes Highway 41 and forces evacuations in Fish Camp

Special to Sierra Star

A blaze near Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad in Fish Camp, reported around 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, grew to 300 acres by 3 p.m., with the potential to grow to 5,000. Evacuations and road closures have been ordered.

Closures on Highway 41 have been shifted since they were first put in place near Tenaya Lodge around 12:40 p.m. As of 2:45 p.m., the highway is closed in Cedar Valley, and at Summit Road in Fish Camp.

By 1 p.m., Narrow Gauge Inn and the communities of Sugar Pine and Sugar Pine Camp had been completely evacuated.

Shortly before 2:15 p.m., authorities prepared to request evacuation of Tenaya Lodge. Around 30 minutes later, mandatory evacuations were issued for the resort, and requested for the entire Fish Camp area. A very large air tanker was being requested at that time to support numerous air attack crews and ground equipment.

An evacuation center was being set up by the American Red Cross at Oakhurst Community Center, with plans for it to be opened around 3 p.m.

The fire was first reported near Highway 41 and Mill Canyon Road in Fish Camp.

By 3 p.m., the blaze was estimated at 300 acres. It started to the west side of Highway 41, and was spreading to the east. Air attack crews were overhead earlier in the afternoon to make retardant and water drops, and remained overhead at that time. Reportedly, some air attack teams were having trouble on the fire’s eastern flank due to smoke impacting their visibility.

Some air resources were reportedly being diverted from the South Fork and Empire fires in Yosemite National Park.

At least three houses were reportedly under threat, with the possibility of many more. Most locations in Fish Camp, including the railroad and Narrow Gauge Inn, were reportedly under threat.

This story will be updated.