Two fires merge in Sequoia National Park and spread into a giant sequoia grove

KNP Complex of fires in Southern California has burned more than 21,000 acres

5:55 a.m. PDT Sept. 19, 2021

KNP Complex of fires map
KNP Complex of fires map, 11:50 p.m. Sept. 18, 2021. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. The green areas are the approximate locations of giant sequoia groves.

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.

Sequoia with wrap
Photo by Matthew Mehle, Incident Meteorologist for U.S. National Weather Service (NWS), assigned to the KNP Complex Fire.

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

Wrapping General Sherman tree fire protect
Wrapping the General Sherman tree to protect it from the approaching wildfire in Sequoia National Park. NPS photo.

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.

KNP Complex of fire map, 11 p.m. Sept. 17, 2021
KNP Complex of fires map, 11 p.m. Sept. 17, 2021. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. The green areas are the approximate locations of giant sequoia groves.

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.

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Emigrant Fire burns over 200 acres near Pyramid Lake in Southern California

Posted on Categories WildfireTags

5:46 p.m. PDT Sept. 17, 2021

Emigrant Fire
Emigrant Fire at 4:21 p.m. Sept. 17, 2021. KTLA 5.

A fire that started off Interstate 5 east of Pyramid Lake burned approximately 220 acres by 4 p.m. Friday. At that time most of the spread had been stopped by firefighters assisted by air tankers and helicopters. The location of Pyramid Lake just across the freeway from the blaze allowed for quick turnarounds by the helicopters.

Initially it was putting up a large column of smoke, spreading rapidly uphill, and was spotting a quarter mile ahead.

The fire is 10 air miles south of Gorman and 22 miles north of Santa Clarita.

Map Emigrant Fire
Map showing the location of the Emigrant Fire, September 17, 2021.
DC-10 drops on the Emigrant Fire
DC-10 drops on the Emigrant Fire, Sept. 17, 2021. KTLA 5.
MD87 drops retardant Emigrant Fire
MD87 extends drop made by the DC-10, Emigrant Fire, Sept. 17, 2021. KTLA 5.
Emigrant Fire, Levbec Oaks camera looking southeast at 2:34 p.m. Sept 17, 2021. AlertWildfire.
Emigrant Fire, Levbec Oaks camera, looking southeast at 2:34 p.m. Sept 17, 2021. AlertWildfire.

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Giant Sequoia trees in Sequoia NP being protected from fire with structure protection wrap

KNP Complex of fires, Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park in Southern California

5:51 a.m. PDT Sept. 17, 2021

KNP Complex of fires, 3-D map, 8 p.m. PDT Sept. 16, 2021.
KNP Complex of fires, 3-D map, looking northeast, 8 p.m. PDT Sept. 16, 2021. The bright red areas had intense heat when the fire was mapped. Green represents the approximate location of giant sequoia groves.

In order to protect the largest tree in the world from a wildfire in Sequoia National Park extraordinary measures are being taken. In an effort to prepare a grove of giant sequoias for the expected spread of the KNP Complex of fires into the area, personnel are attaching fire resistant material usually used on structures on some of the iconic monarch sequoias that characterize the most famous area of Sequoia National Park. Firefighters are also carefully burning out around the largest or most vulnerable trees, basically treating them again with prescribed fire.

General Sherman giant sequoia tree with protective wrap Sept. 16, 2021
General Sherman sequoia tree with protective wrap Sept. 16, 2021. NPS photo.

The KNP Complex of fires ignited by lightning on September 9 is growing in all directions in Sequoia National Park in Southern California. The complex is comprised of the Paradise and the Colony Fires. A mapping flight Thursday night found that the combined size of the two, which were about a quarter-mile apart, was approximately 11,300 acres.

To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the KNP Complex of fires, including the most recent, click HERE.

North of the Paradise Fire is the Giant Forest, a grove of very large giant sequoias. In this area is the General Sherman, the world’s largest tree measured by volume. It stands 275 feet tall, and is over 36 feet in diameter at the base. The National Park Service has been managing this grove with prescribed fire since the 1960s which will help the monster trees fend off the fire, but the multi-year drought has led to historically low fuel moistures, leading to concern that they could be damaged by these very intense fires.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office is maintaining a map showing the areas under evacuation orders.

KNP Complex of fires, map, 8 p.m. PDT Sept. 16, 2021
KNP Complex of fires, map, 8 p.m. PDT Sept. 16, 2021. The bright red areas had intense heat when the fire was mapped. Green represents the approximate location of giant sequoia groves.

On Thursday fire activity picked up in the late afternoon with terrain driven surface spread and short crown fire runs as the smoke cleared, humidity levels dropped, and the temperature increased.

Firefighters from CAL FIRE are building an indirect dozer line southwest of the Paradise Fire outside the National Park, a project that is expected to take several days to complete. It starts at park headquarters near the Ash Mountain Entrance and runs southeast along the toe of Paradise Ridge south of Milk Ranch.

There are multiple large giant sequoia groves and structures southeast of the Paradise Fire that could be threatened, including Atwell Grove, Silver City Resort, and Mineral King Ranger Station.

Resources assigned to the fire include 10 hand crews, 28 engines, and 8 helicopters for a total of 416 personnel.

Protecting the Sequoia National Park sign
Protecting the Sequoia National Park sign with structure protection wrap, September 14, 2021. InciWeb.

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Man arrested for starting the Hopkins Fire in Calpella, California

Will be charged with parole violation, aggravated arson (multiple structures), arson of an inhabited structure, and arson during a state of emergency

3:16 p.m. PDT Sept, 15, 2021

Hopkins Fire
Hopkins Fire, looking southeast from Ridgewood Grade at 3:39 p.m. PDT Sept. 12, 2021.

On Tuesday September 14, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) and officers from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s office arrested a person for starting the Hopkins Fire that on Sunday burned numerous structures and 257 acres in Calpella, California.

During a briefing at the Incident Command Post on Tuesday, an officer from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office announced the status of the case.

Investigators recovered footage from a security camera at a local business that showed an adult male starting the fire. Tuesday morning one of the investigators saw that person in downtown Calpella who was then contacted and identified as Devin Lamar Johnson, a 20-year old male from Ukiah, California. Mr. Johnson was on probation in Mendocino County for an attempted robbery charge.

After fire investigators and Sheriff’s detectives followed up, Mr. Johnson was arrested and placed in the Mendocino County Jail on a no bail status to be charged for parole violation and three arson charges: aggravated arson (multiple structures), arson of an inhabited structure, and arson during a state of emergency.

Mr. Johnson may have been photographed watching the fire in a photo taken by Peter Armstrong.

Hopkins Fire map
Hopkins Fire map. The icons represent heat detected by satellites as late as 4:53 a.m. PDT Sept. 13, 2021.

Update, September 16, 2021: The Press Democrat reported yesterday a damage assessment found that 30 homes and 16 other structures were destroyed in the Hopkins Fire.

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