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An Erickson sky-crane helicopter drops retardant on the Pine fire, July 7. [photo by David Slinker]
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Helen Tarbet, an information officer with the Los Padres National Forest, shows the location of Pine Mountain Club with her right hand and the location of the fire with her left. As the crow flies, the fire was about 16 miles southwest of the Mountain Communities [update: by Monday, July 4 it was 13 miles from Pine Mountain Club]. The topography in the Sespe Wilderness Area is rugged and steep. The real distance is greater, but the fire is not contained. The spread of the fire is toward the northeast. [Patric Hedlund photo for The Mountain Enterprise].
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The pine fire rages within its still small footprint south of Lockwood Valley. [USFS photo]
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This is is the fire footprint map July 4, 2016 at noon. Each quadrant represents one square mile. The fire is 5 miles south of western Lockwood Valley Road and 13 miles south of Pine Mountain Club. Click on the image to enlarge the size of the map.
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A view of the burn area in the Sespe Wilderness Area on Friday, July 1 [Los Padres National Forest photo].
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Incident Commander Trainee Peter Stephenson briefs members of the Del Rosa Hotshots on basics of the fire. [photo by Gary Meyer, The Mountain Enterprise]
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Flight crew members board a helicopter at Chuchupate Ranger Station for the short trip to the fire where they will begin setting up air operations. [photo by Gary Meyer, The Mountain Enterprise]
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A distant view of the Pine fire smoke on Thursday, June 30. [USFS photo]
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Nancy Dudley sent this shot of the smoke visible from Pine Mountain Club on Thursday, June 30.
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Chandra Mead of Lebec snapped a photo of a staging area on Tejon Ranch land near Kern County Fire Station 56. Large Sekorski Skycrane helicopters are staged here. They carry loads of fire suppressant, water drops, equipment and supplies into the Sespe Wilderness Area for firefighters working on the Pine fire.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LOCKWOOD VALLEY, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Tuesday, July 12, 2016 at 8:21 a.m.)–The Pine fire is now 93% contained. Fire personnel working the fire has been decreased to 343. The voluntary evacuation of Camp Scheideck has been lifted, according to fire officials.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LOCKWOOD VALLEY, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Monday, July 11, 2016 at 9:44 a.m.)–The Pine fire is now 77% contained. Fire personnel working the fire has been decreased to 484.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LOCKWOOD VALLEY, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Sunday, July 10, 2016 at 9:35 p.m.)–The Pine fire is still holding to 2,304 acres and 71% containment with the assistance of Hotshot crews and aircraft. Assigned personnel has dropped to 517. Specialized “Wildland Fire Modules” continue the suppression repair efforts. “A module consists of 7-10 personnel…They conduct basic suppression using minimal impact techniques and backcountry fire behavior analysis,” officials said in their update.
“Winds are expected to increase significantly Sunday through Monday and may test the firelines. Critical fire weather conditions resulting in a red flag warning is in effect from 3 p.m. today until 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. A red flag warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior which will occur within 24 hours. During this time caution is urged for all residents.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LOCKWOOD VALLEY, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Saturday, July 9, 2016 at 6:35 p.m.)–Containment of the Pine fire increased to 71% today as hotshot crews and aircraft continued working to put line around the northern portions of the fire. Personnel working the fire is down to 517. Winds are expected to increase Saturday night through Monday and may test the fire lines, according to USFS fire officials.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LOCKWOOD VALLEY, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Saturday, July 9, 2016 at 8:34 a.m.)–The Pine fire was held overnight at 2,304 acres. Containment was increased by fire crews to 52% and personnel working the fire was decreased to 613. Public information officers wrote: “The Pine Fire has burned 2,304 acres and has reached 50% containment. Yesterday, the south line along Pine Mtn. Ridge and the west line held successfully with minimal fire activity observed. Hotshot crews and aircraft worked to contain the northern portions of the fire and construct direct fireline in that area where the terrain would allow. Crews completed indirect line construction along the Boulder Canyon Trail from the Ozena Fire Station to Pine Mtn. Campground. Additional helispots are being utilized to facilitate crew movement to different parts of the fire that remain the most active.”
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LOCKWOOD VALLEY, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Friday, July 8, 2016 at 8:04 a.m.)–The Pine fire is now 42% contained with an increased total acreage burned of 2,304. The number of fire personnel working the fire is now 689.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LOCKWOOD VALLEY, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Thursday, July 7, 2016 at 9:29 a.m.)–The size of the Pine fire has increased to 2,198 acres according to this morning’s report. The progress continues toward containment. Officials announced a 35% containment estimate.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LOCKWOOD VALLEY, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at 9:55 p.m.)–Major progress toward containment was made this Wednesday as over 690 firefighters are now on the Pine fire: Containment assessment Wednesday night has been increased to 30%.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at 2:55 p.m.)—An update from the incident command post this afternoon follows:
Crews have made good progress in hand line construction. Crews will continue hand line suppression efforts where feasible. Crews will continue indirect line to facilitate suppression strategies. Fire line safety is priority. Logistical support of a spike camp on the east end of the Pine Mt. Ridge near Cedar Creek Trail will be provided by Packstock, and is anticipated to begin today.
6 to 12 mph north and west surface winds continued through the night. Ridge winds are predicted to continue from the northwest throughout the day. Roll out and uphill runs continue to be a contributing factor to fire spread. Fire growth continues to be a couple hundred acres a day, mainly to the north.
Crews and aircraft will continue to work the south and west flank of the fire in an effort to keep the fire from spreading especially to the south side of Pine Mt. Ridge. Additional helispots have been identified to facilitate crew movement to the various areas of the fire. A spike camp is being scouted out on the east end of Pine Mtn Ridge near Pine Mtn Lodge campground. Rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft have been invaluable in checking the fires’ spread, allowing ground resources and opportunity to direct attack the fires’ edge.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Wednesday, July 6, 2016 at 8:40 a.m.)—Acreage burned in the Pine fire has increased to 2,058. Fire activity overnight was mostly to the north, according to fire officials.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at 8:30 p.m.)—The Pine fire is now 18% contained with 667 firefighters working the fire. Acreage burned is still at 1,814.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Tuesday, July 5, 2016 at 8:45 a.m.)—Acreage consumed by the Pine fire is at 1,814 with the fire still 15% contained. Total personnel working the fire is now 665. Winds are predicted to shift to the west/northwest this afternoon. Fire information officers at the command post said the fire was moderately active overnight. “Ground fire with occasional uphill runs was observed.”
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Monday, July 4, 2016 at 9:30 p.m.)—A 15% containment of the Pine fire occurred today. The acreage increased by only 26 acres from this morning, and is now 1,660 acres. Information officer Helen Tarbet said winds are expected to continue to the northeast through Thursday.
The injury reported yesterday was minor: “He just cut his hand and he was released back to work,” Talbet said of the firefighter.
Authorization for heavier equipment in the Sespe Wilderness Area has not been granted at this time.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Monday, July 4, 2016 at 12:08 p.m.)—See the photos at right (Photo 3) for the latest map of the fire activity in relation to the Mountain Communities. The fire appears to be about 13 miles from Pine Mountain Club now, 5 miles south of the western Lockwood Valley Road. That is an estimate based on the map, with each quadrant representing one square mile [see photo 3, click on image to enlarge size of the map].
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Monday, July 4, 2016 at 10:47 a.m.)—Information Officer Raj Singh has just emphasized that if a drone is in the area, the entire air operation to fight the fire must shut down for safety reasons. He askes that all drone owners acquaint themselves with the rules for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
“During a wildfire, temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) are implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration. TFRs limit air travel in designated areas due to a temporary hazardous condition. Flying a drone near a wildfire is against the law. Remember, If You Fly, We Can’t,” he wrote yesterday after a drone was discovered in the firefighting area. The operator was located and the craft was grounded.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Monday, July 4, 2016 at 10:25 a.m.)—Information Officer Raj Singh for the Pine fire Incident Command confirmed that the fire is still at 0% containment and that the projected containment has been extended to July 15, 2016. One less helicopter is on the job today. There will be 10.
“We expect winds to change from the southeast as it has been, to originating from the northwest–primarily on ridgetops–later today,” Singh said. That would tend to push the fire further back from the Frazier Mountain Communities.
We will post an updated fire map as soon as it is available. Read below for continuous coverage and check back for updates.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, LEBEC and PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Monday, July 4, 2016 at 7 a.m.)—The Pine Fire has grown to 1,634 acres and has “0% containment” according to this morning’s update briefing by Incident Command. [Read from bottom for continuous coverage of developments.] Today, 455 firefighters were assigned, including five hotshot crews and eight 20-person hand crews, seven engines and seven water tenders.
On July 1, officials predicted a July 7 end to the fire. We are seeking an update of that estimate.
The fire is about 16 miles (as the crow flies) southwest of Pine Mountain Club. It started 11 miles north of Ojai on June 30 just before 9 a.m. in the Sespe Wilderness Area, where heavy equipment cannot be taken into the forest. Access is by air. Three staging areas are being used for 11 helicopters that are transporting chemical suppressant, water drops, equipment, personnel and supplies into and out of the area.
A Type II Incident Management Team has taken over command and coordination from the Los Padres National Forest. Along with the LPNF firefighters, cooperating agencies include the Kern County Fire Department, Ventura County Fire Department, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 11 p.m.)—The number of personnel assigned to the Pine Fire increased by 85 on Sunday, to 455. Now there are e
Crews are staying overnight in the wilderness, supplied by aircraft. There are now 11 helicopters assigned to assist ground crews by dropping retardant, water and gear. Large skycrane Sekorski crafts are being staged on Tejon Ranch property near the Lebec exit from the Interstate 5. There are also helicopters operating out of Mt. Pinos Ranger District’s Chuchupate heliport and another staging area for smaller helicopters near Camp Scheideck.
The Pine fire started the morning of June 30, 2016 about 11 miles north of Ojai in the Sespe Wilderness. It has increased its size to the northeast, burning through chaparral, brush and forest timber. The fire is about 16 miles southwest (as the crow flies) of the Pine Mountain community.
The estimated total of 1,590 acres burned so far remained the same today, though the evening report still says there is “0% containment.” There have been no injuries, but 51 structures are threatened.
Evacuations There are no mandatory evacuations. There are voluntary evacuations of the Camp Scheideck community, Reyes Creek Campground, and the Grade Valley area including Thorne Meadow and Fish Bowls.
Closures Pine Mountain Recreational Area at Highway 33. Reyes Creek Campground near Sheideck. Reyes Creek Trailhead. Piedra Blanca Trailhead. Chorro Grande Trailhead. Grade Valley Road junction at Lockwood Valley
Events An Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), also known as a drone, was flying in the vicinity of the fire operations heliport today. The pilot was located and the drone was grounded. During a wildfire, temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) are implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration. TFRs limit air travel in designated areas due to a temporary hazardous condition. Flying a drone near a wildfire is against the law. Remember, If You Fly, We Can’t.
Please use care this holiday weekend . Two of every five fires on the 4th of July are started by fireworks. Level 3 fire restrictions remain in effect on the Los Padres National Forest. This means no fireworks allowed on the forest, no open campfires except in designated sites, and no target shooting. Propane stoves are permissible with a permit. More information can be found by going to www.fs.usda.gov/lpnf/.
Evacuations: There are no mandatory evacuations. There are voluntary evacuations of the Camp Scheideck community, Reyes Creek Campground, and the Grade Valley area including Thorne Meadow and Fish Bowls.
Closures: Pine Mountain Recreational Area at Highway 33. Reyes Creek Campground near Sheideck. Reyes Creek Trailhead. Piedra Blanca Trailhead. Chorro Grande Trailhead. Grade Valley Road junction at Lockwood Valley Road.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 6 p.m.)—Large Erickson helicopters are being staged on Tejon Ranch property near the Interstate 5 Lebec exit. They are “Type One Skycranes” according to Los Padres National Forest information officer Helen Tarbet, They are being loaded with fire retardant and water for battling the Pine fire in the mountains about 16 miles southwest of Pine Mountain Club.
Talbet explained that Type Two helicopters are operating out of the Mount Piños District Chuchupate Ranger Station. Type Three helicopters are operating from Camp Sheideck area.
We will provide another update after the 6 a.m. briefing.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Sunday, July 3, 2016 at 7:30 a.m.)—Most the firefighters stayed on the mountain last night. There is still zero containment of the Pine fire. The South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team is set up at Frazier Mountain High School today, with camp facilities in place for firefighters, including dining, kitchen and administrative office trailers. The Mt. Pinos District (Los Padres National Forest) Chuchupate heliport is providing helicopter transport of supplies and crews.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Saturday, July 2, 2016 at 9:40 p.m.)— The fire has grown to 1,590 acres since this morning and is still zero percent contained. There are 377 firefighting personnel on the Pine fire. There are no mandatory evacuations at this time. Voluntary evacuations are in effect for the Camp Scheideck community, Reyes Creek Campground, and the Grade Valley area including Thorne Meadow and Fish Bowls. The following roads and areas are closed, according to the incident management team: Pine Mountain Recreational Area at Highway 33. Reyes Creek Campground near Sheideck. Reyes Creek Trailhead. Piedra Blanca Trailhead. Chorro Grande Trailhead. Grade Valley Road junction at Lockheed Valley Road.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Saturday July 2, 2016 at 11:15 a.m.)— Acreage burned is still at approximately 1450 acres. Containment is still zero percent and the number of personnel is still at 366. About 50 structures are threatened. According to fire officials, there remains high potential for growth due to heavy fuels and steep inaccessible terrain. The terrain is making access difficult, and crews and supplies are being helicoptered in. Crews were able to begin line construction yesterday and that work will be continuing today. Air support will continue with retardant drops.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Saturday July 2, 2016 at 7:32 a.m.)— Voluntary evacuations have begun for residents south of Lockwood Valley Road in the Camp Scheideck area. The fire is actively burning to the southwest and the northeast with high potential for growth due to heavy fuels and steep inaccessible terrain. The incident commander on the Pine fire is now Deron Mills of South Central Sierra Incident Management Team.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Friday, July 1, 2016 at 10:45 p.m.)— The Pine fire jumped to 1,450 acres in a few hours this evening. The South Central Sierra Incident Management Team took command of the incident at 6 p.m. this evening. Voluntary evacuations have been implemented by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department for the area south of Lockwood Valley Road in the vicinity of Camp Sheideck ( few miles east of Hwy. 33).
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Friday, July 1, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.)— The Pine fire has increased to 400 acres. The number of personnel fighting the fire has increased to 366, according to fire officials. The fire continues to burn in a northeast direction. Ground crews are on scene overnight working to cut line around the fire.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Friday, July 1, 2016 at 3:02 p.m.)— We had a report that a local restaurant was asked if they could provide 1,000 lunches for firefighters. We asked Andrew Madsen from the Los Padres National Forest how many firefighters are working on the Pine fire. “Currently there are 121 personnel assigned, however as we transition to a Type II Incident Management Team we will bringing in additional resources,” he said.
A Type II Incident Management Team is a federally certified team that is used on smaller-scale national or state level incidents.
In response to our earlier questions, here is Madsen’s assessment of the day’s conditions:
“Winds were forecast this morning SE 4-8 mph. The afternoon forecast for the slopes and valleys on the fire were predicted to be 5-10 mph with gusts to 15 mph. We’ve requested spot forecasts as NWS is seeing more cumulus clouds than were expected.”
The Sespe National Wilderness contains cliffs and caves that are the primary nesting and fledgng areas for wild California condor. We asked Madsen what impact the fire is having on this critical habitat: “There are some threatened and endangered plant and animal species within the fire area. The Sespe is a California condor flyway but this area [where the fire is located] sees less nesting and foraging.”
The public information officer also said that crews have been briefed about the hazards associated with illegal marijuana cultivation. “Our law enforcement is closely monitoring in the event a grow site is discovered during the firefight,” Madsen said. —PH
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Friday, July 1, 2016 at 12:15 p.m.)—Since this morning’s briefing, forest service officials have estimated a containment date of July 7 for the Pine fire. The amount of land burned at this point is 300 acres. Some structures have reportedly been threatened. The direction the fire is currently moving is to the northeast.
UPDATE—FRAZIER PARK, CA (Friday, July 1, 2016 at 10:09 a.m.)—The atmosphere at Chuchupate Ranger Station this morning was one of preparation for battle. Helicopters were flying in and out, troops (hot shot crews) were waiting for assignments, and the commanders were posting maps and reports on today’s plans to stop the Pine fire before it grows beyond a hoped-for containment line. Los Padres National Forest Wildland Firefighting Division Chief John Abell, Incident Commander Gary Helming and Incident Commander Trainee Peter Stephenson gave The Mountain Enterprise a snapshot of the fire’s status and their own next steps to try to bring the incident to a close as soon as possible.
“At this time the fire is zero percent contained,” Stephenson said under the thunder of helicopters landing to pick up flight crews for transport to form a base closer to the fire. “We have fixed wing aircraft reinforcing a retardant line right now. 85% to 90% of the fire has retardant around it. That’s not a containment figure for the fire, but the aircraft are buying time for the hotshot crews to get on the ground and start cutting line around the fire,” Stephenson said.
Division Chief Abell said he spoke with Frazier Mountain High School Principal Sara Haflich moments prior and that an incident command post will be set up at the school on Saturday. “Helicopter operations will continue out of Chuchupate Ranger Station,” he said.
“The fire is currently at 250 to 300 acres,” Stephenson said. “We have Ventura Crew 12, Rio Bravo Hotshots, Valyermo Hotshots and Battalion Chief 72 (Los Padres) on the fire now.” Each hotshot crew is 20 members. “As fires go, this is a fairly small fire,” Stephenson continued. “Yesterday, when the winds surfaced, it became more active. With today’s weather prediction, we can expect fire activity to increase in the afternoon.”
Stephenson pointed out on the map how commanders are planning to contain the fire within a “box” roughly three miles around all sides of the blaze, with Spring Falls being the line to the north of the fire. Spring Falls is about 6 miles south of Lockwood Valley Road. The fire is roughly 17 miles south of Pine Mountain Club.
“This fire is in the Wilderness area of the Los Padres. We cannot take bulldozers or other mechanical equipment into that area,” Stephenson said. “The hotshot crews will be doing the work by hand that bulldozers would do in other types of areas. Our first priority is to protect human lives and property, and the safety of our firefighters,” he said.
Command staff is careful not to speak in terms of predictions, but Deputy Incident Commander Michael Strawhun said it would be nice if they could get this wrapped up in a couple of days.
FRAZIER PARK, CA (Friday, July 1, 2016 at 7:45 a.m.)—The Pine fire was reported to have doubled in size by 8:30 p.m. last night. It is now 200 acres. Emergency road closures in the area, announced by Los Padres National Forest officials follow:
Los Padres National Forest officials announced the closure of the Pine Mountain Road at Highway 33. The Pine Mountain and Reyes Peak Campgrounds are also closed due to the Pine Fire that began earlier today near the Haddock Campground. The Grade Valley Road at the intersection of Lockwood Valley Road and the Reyes Creek Campground are also closed as fire crews work to suppress the fire. These roads will potentially be used by fire crews and the public is strongly encouraged to avoid these.
PINE MOUNTAIN CLUB, CA (Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 6:50 p.m.)—The Pine fire, reported at 8:45 a.m., has grown from 7 acres to 100 acres, according to Andrew Madsen with Los Padres National Forest. The fire is located in the Sespe Wildnerness, near Haddock Campground, about 3 miles west of Pine Mountain Lodge (not Pine Mountain Club). From Pine Mountain Club, the fire is about 17 miles due south. A large air tanker plus several smaller air tankers have been deployed. The incident commander on the fire is John Abell with Mt. Pinos Ranger District. Approximately 150 fire personnel are fighting the fire at this time. No threats to Lockwood Valley have been reported. This page will be updated periodically as information comes available.
This is part of the July 1, 2016 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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