Firefighters battling South Fork Fire east of Wawona, California

South Fork Fire

Above: South Fork Fire. Inciweb.

(Originally published at 11:38 a.m. PDT August 15, 2017)

The main priority of firefighters battling the South Fork Fire in Yosemite National Park in California is protecting homes in the North Wawona community 1.7 miles west of the fire along the South Fork of the Merced River.

Not much information is available about the fire 56 hours after it was reported very early Sunday morning, but we know that it is burning above the river on steep, rocky slopes in a forested area with beetle-killed trees. While a fire burning through dead trees sounds scary, after the needles fall off, the trees burn with less intensity and rate of spread than a healthy forest.

According to the South Zone Coordination Center, voluntary evacuations are in effect for Wawona on the east side of Chilnaulna Falls Ridge.

Our very unofficial estimate based on satellite data from 3:43 a.m. PDT Tuesday puts it at approximately 2,000 acres. The last official figure from the Incident Management Team was 1,613 acres at 7 p.m. Monday.

map South Fork Fire
3-D map of the South Fork Fire. Estimated perimeter (in red) based on satellite data from 3:43 a.m. PDT August 15, 2017.

Deron Mills’ Type 2 Incident Management Team is transitioning into the management structure of the fire today, Tuesday.

The weather forecast for the fire area for Tuesday calls for sunny skies, 75 to 80 degrees, relative humidity in the mid-30s, and very light winds on the slopes in the morning increasing to 10 mph on the ridgetops in the afternoon.

The South Fork Fire and others in California are contributing to unhealthy air quality in many areas.

visibility in Yosemite National Park El Capitan
The visibility in Yosemite National Park at El Capitan, 12:02 p.m. PDT August 15, 2017.
pm25 air quality california wildfire
The forecast for the maximum levels of wildfire particulate matter (PM 2.5) for August 15, 2017 in Central California. Experimental product by U.S. Forest Service/BlueSky.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.