Oak Fire slows, but still spreads into footprint of 2018 Ferguson Fire

CAL FIRE is using one of their new Firehawk helicopters to drop water at night

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 7:05 a.m. PDT July 26, 2022

Oak Fire map 7:27 p.m. July 25, 2022
Oak Fire map. The red line was the perimeter at 7:27 p.m. July 25, 2022. The white line was the perimeter about 23 hours before.

Fire officials called Monday a successful day on the Oak Fire northwest of Mariposa, California, saying there was minimal growth. The 1,200 acres added paled in comparison to the rapid spread seen on Friday and Saturday. It was mapped Monday night at 18,017 acres, with most of the increase being on the east side where it is chewing through the four-year old vegetation in the footprint of the 2018 Ferguson Fire. East of Jerseydale it has advanced nearly two miles into the fire scar.

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Oak Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.

Helicopters dropped 300,000 gallons of water Monday, including thousands of gallons dropped by one of CAL FIRE’s new night-flying helicopters, H-903, normally based at McClellan near Sacramento. According to tracking data recorded by FlightAware it conducted what appeared to be two fuel cycles working out of the Columbia airport 42 miles northwest of the Oak Fire. Until CAL FIRE recently purchased their 12 new Sikorsky S-70i Firehawk helicopters they were not in the night-flying business. This was one of the first fires CAL FIRE has flown at night.

CAL FIRE H-903, Sikorsky S-70i FireHawk
CAL FIRE H-903, Sikorsky S-70i FireHawk, N483DF, Photo by Dylan Phelps, Sept. 2020.

The damage assessment team has been working for the last two days to identify structures affected by the fire. Monday afternoon their findings to date were released — 21 residences and 34 outbuildings have been destroyed.

Resources on the incident Monday night included 24 helicopters, 302 fire engines, 82 dozers, 68 water tenders, and 61 hand crews for a total of 2,991 personnel.

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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.

7 thoughts on “Oak Fire slows, but still spreads into footprint of 2018 Ferguson Fire”

  1. Big step in the right direction if they’ve stopped calling 4+ year old fires burn scars. Lost count the amount of time fires been lost because the genius idea is to backburn to pull the fire into a old burn that has a ton of regrowth but someone called it a burn scar from 2004 on paper so they went with it SMDH

  2. We were evacuated on Friday just two hours after the fire broke out in Midpines due to the shocking spread of that fire, and also the fact that Jerseydale Road is the sole access route in or out.

    We live there. That’s where our cedar log home was built 50 years ago. We’re in that (still-holding) little island at the northern portion of Jerseydale, in the Mariposa Pines area. And though the Ferguson Fire touched right up to our boundary, and backfiring was heavily utilized, there was a huge portion of live, standing plant and tree growth left in that scar. I’ve scoffed at those who’ve prognosticated that the Oak Fire will stop its growth when it runs into the Ferguson footprint, and it’s pretty clear that’s not the case, at least so far. While I really hope our home (and those of neighboring properties) can be saved, I fear for the safety of those who are trying to save our houses, and the safety of firefighters must come before structural protection. During Ferguson, out-of-the-area crews stationed at our home actually watered our plants, our potted Christmas tree. They were amazing people – fighting to protect our homes and to prevent that fire from encroaching into our property.

    This one is different. This fire is a monster – and old “burn scars” are already appearing to offer no resistance to this new breed of superfire.

  3. So if the current fire has spread into an old fire scar, what does that imply about “prescribed fire” as a fire retardant?

    1. Excellent question! Can anyone answer Martha’s question? Isn’t that one of the purposes of control burn?

    2. Generally, prescribed fire isn’t conducted so intensely that the soil is sterilized and vegetation regrowth is limited for many many years— it isn’t meant to removed ALL the fuel so that a wildfire couldn’t burn at all.
      Usually, prescribed fire is intended to removed the type of fuels that encourage active fire behavior, such as ladder fuels. This gives firefighters a better chance to catch fires when they’re small an/or relatively inactive.
      Under certain conditions, such as droughts, peak burn season, or wind events, wildfires will STILL BURN through prescribed fire treatments, because there is still available fuel. That’s just the reality of living on landscapes that promote hardy, fire adapted and fire tolerant plant species.
      Prescribed fire isn’t a magic bullet, even though some might accuse us practitioners of saying so. It is still an effective tool, when used correctly.
      And Martha, I can assure you I’d rather try and fight a fire in an old wildfire “scar” or an area treated by Rx than an unburned area that has 100 years of undisturbed growth.

      1. Any fire, wildfire or Rx fire requires repeat application in order to effectively reduce fuels. In some areas of NW California the snag patches and dead and down fuel loads have increased the hazard to firefighters to the point they will not engage. The Dixie fire was in part fueled by the increased hazard from the 2012 Chips fire. I am very concerned that unless we address the problem and remove the fire kill from the mega fire scars in NorCal we will have (in 10 years or so) created a fuel bed for repeated mega fires and a timber to brush conversion on millions of acres of forest land

What do you think?