5:55 a.m. PDT Sept. 19, 2021
There was less growth of the KNP Complex of fires on Saturday than the day before, but it has spread 1.5 miles north of the Generals Highway northwest of the Lodgepole Visitor Center. Smoke cleared in the afternoon, allowing air tankers and helicopters to resume direct attack on the fire in steep terrain inaccessible to fire crews. This includes areas on the southwest perimeter of the fire nearest the Three Rivers community.
Despite the fire reaching the Four Guardsmen trees in the Giant Forest, the incident management team reported that fuel removal efforts by firefighters, combined with structure wrap applied by crews to the base of the iconic sequoia trees, successfully protected these national treasures.
The fire also crossed the Generals Highway again farther to the north in the area of the General Sherman tree.
The fire was mapped at 21,777 acres by a fixed wing aircraft at 11:50 p.m. Saturday.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect through 8 p.m. Sunday for gusty winds and low humidity. Northwest winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph will be possible within the area identified by the NSS, along with relative humidity ranging from the upper single digits to the high teens. However localized forecasts for the fire area on Sunday predict much less wind — near calm becoming east-southeast around 5 mph in the afternoon with 34 percent relative humidity in the higher elevations of the fire.
To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the KNP Complex of fires, including the most recent, click HERE.
11:25 a.m. PDT Sept. 18, 2021
The two fires that comprised the KNP Complex in Sequoia National Park in southern California, the Colony and Paradise Fires, merged Friday when the Paradise fire spread north into the Colony Fire. On Friday humidities as low as 10 percent and air that was more free of smoke set up conditions for extreme fire behavior with spotting and sustained crown fire runs. The fire was mapped Friday night at 11,365 acres, an increase of about 6,000.
The fire impacted the southwestern tip of the Giant Forest grove of sequoia trees, the location of the Four Guardsmen trees, when the Colony Fire made a big three-mile run to the northeast, starting spot fires up to one mile ahead. Those four huge trees and others have been receiving attention from firefighters in recent days who cleared around them, removed duff, and applied fire shelter wrap to the bases of the trees.
During that three-mile run, farther north the fire crossed the Generals Highway again, this time near Red Fir and Wuksachi Lodge, west of the Lodgepole Visitor Center. Firefighters, to the extent they are available, are working on structure protection in these areas.
CAL FIRE is still constructing the indirect dozer line outside of the park southwest of the fire near Paradise Ridge. When that is complete the dozers will work with masticators to open an old road to Shepards Saddle in the southwest corner of the park, a road popular with mountain bikers. The last step before and if the fire arrives at the old road will be to use fire engines or water tenders to apply fire retardant along the edge of what will become a fire line. Fire retardant is most frequently dropped from helicopters or fixed wing air tankers, but it can also be applied from the ground. This method was used extensively on the Dixie Fire six weeks ago and can be especially useful if smoke makes flying impossible.
A south wind has been causing the fire to spread primarily to the north, so there has been little movement to the south. Operations Section Chief Jon Wallace in a Saturday morning briefing did not mention constructing any direct or indirect fireline on the south side of the fire, but said their personnel are working with cooperators to protect structures at Mineral King.
A Red Flag Warning has been issued for Saturday evening through 8 p.m. Sunday for gusty winds and low humidity. Northwest winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 45 mph will be possible, along with relative humidity ranging from the upper single digits to the high teens, and with poor overnight humidity recovery. This wind direction with the low humidities could drive an intense fire through the Giant Forest, and possibly the Paradise Peak groves south of the fire.