100 more people rescued by helicopters as Creek Fire grows to over 140,000 acres

Helicopter pilot said it was, “By far the toughest flying I have ever done.”

Map of the Creek Fire
Map of the Creek Fire at 8:41 p.m. PDT September 7, 2020.

The Creek Fire 22 miles northeast of Fresno grew explosively Monday, and has now blackened 143,929 acres.

Military helicopters continue to rescue people that are becoming trapped as roads are blocked by the fast moving blaze. In addition to the 224 that were rescued by National Guard helicopters September 5 near Mammoth Pool Reservoir, about 100 more were rescued Monday night and Tuesday morning. The Guard and the U.S. Navy extracted people from the Edison Lake and China Peak areas and took them to the Fresno airport, the Fresno Bee reported. Helicopters that were transporting civilians included Blackhawks, Chinooks, and a Navy Seahawk.

Rescued people arrive at Fresno Creek Fire
People who were rescued from the Creek Fire by Chinook helicopters arrive at Fresno airport September 8, 2020. California National Guard image.

From the Bee, September 8:

Five flights have taken place Tuesday, according to Maj. Jason Sweeney, a spokesman for the California National Guard. More were imminent.

In the latest flights, a U.S. Navy Seahawk helicopter returned 17 people and a dog to Fresno from Edison Lake and a National Guard twin-rotor Chinook helicopter flew back from Edison with 46 people and four dogs. The Navy joined the efforts a short time later, sending a rescue helicopter from Lemoore Naval Air Station to Edison Lake, and returned with 11 people.

Not all of the attempts to rescue people were immediately successful. On some missions poor visibility caused by smoke forced pilots to abort and try again later.

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

One of the helicopter pilots who rescued people trapped in the fire said in an interview posted at the Bee that he has been shot at while flying for the Army but, “[T]he stress and added workload of going in and out of that fire every time is by far the toughest flying I have ever done.”

At least 65 structures have burned, according to CAL FIRE, and another 5,300 are threatened.

Resources assigned to the Creek Fire include 10 hand crews, 82 fire engines, and 7 helicopters for a total of 846 personnel.

In normal times if there was not competition for firefighting resources nationally due to numerous fires burning at the same time, there would be between 3,000 and 5,000 personnel on a fire this size. In the United States 23,018 are working on fires today, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center. As another example, the Bobcat Fire that is threatening the wildland-urban interface in the Los Angeles area has 85 total personnel and no hand crews three days after it started.

Tuesday’s weather forecast for the Shaver Lake area calls for 79 degrees, 14 percent relative humidity, and wind out of the northwest or north at 10 to 20 mph gusting at 15 to 28 mph — and no chance of rain. Conditions will moderate Tuesday night, and Wednesday will bring 71 degrees, 20 percent RH, and 5 to 8 mph winds out of the southwest.

Creek Fire reaches Mammoth Pool Reservoir; military helicopters rescue over 150 people

More than a dozen had critical injuries

Updated September 7, 2020  |  12:41 p.m. PDT

Map of the Creek Fire 12:05 a.m. PDT Sept. 7, 2020
Map of the Creek Fire at 12:05 a.m. PDT Sept. 7, 2020. Perimeter provided by the incident management team.

The Creek Fire Sunday grew in all directions but not as much to the north as might be expected after it ran for over 10 miles in that direction during its first 22 hours. The blaze spread south near the west shore of Shaver Lake but according to mapping at 12:05 a.m. Monday stayed primarily west of Highway 168.

The Incident management team reported at 10:47 a.m. Monday the fire had  burned 78,790 acres.


August 6, 2020  |  4:54 p.m. PDT

Map of the Creek Fire
Map of the Creek Fire at 8:38 a.m. PDT August 6, 2020. The perimeter was supplied by the incident management team.

The perimeter of the Creek Fire on the map above was supplied by the incident management team and is much more accurate than data from satellites. The Forest Service reports it has burned 45,500 acres.

Early Saturday afternoon the fire crossed the San Joaquin River and made a run north to the Mammoth Pool area and beyond. Members of the public sheltered in place near Wagner’s Store and Campground and Mammoth Pool Reservoir. Using helicopters, the California Army National Guard safely evacuated 207 people that were trapped by the fire.

The fire burned actively overnight Saturday and into Sunday morning. Firefighters were challenged Sunday by steep rugged terrain, heavy fuel loading, and high temperatures. Additional resources have been ordered including a Type 1 Incident Management Team. Evacuations and closures remain in effect.

Continue reading “Creek Fire reaches Mammoth Pool Reservoir; military helicopters rescue over 150 people”

Creek Fire grows rapidly near Huntington Lake, California

Burns 36,000 acres in 22 hours

Updated September 5, 2020 | 6:42 p.m. PDT

map Creek Fire California Huntington Lake
Map showing heat detected on the Creek Fire by satellites as late as 2:23 p.m. PDT September 5, 2020.

The Creek Fire that has only been burning for about 24 hours in central California is showing explosive growth. The massive multi-layered convection column topped by pyrocumulus is extremely impressive.

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

The fire is on the Sierra National Forest near the community of Big Creek between Huntington Lake and Shaver Lake, 33 air miles northeast of Fresno.

Creek Fire
Creek Fire September 5, 2020. IMT photo.

At 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon the U.S. Forest Service reported it had burned 36,000 acres and 3,000 structures were threatened — 22 hours after the fire was first reported.

The fire has reached Mammoth Pool Reservoir, 7 miles north of Huntington Lake. People were trapped there with the road blocked by the fire. Click on the photo on the right below.

The smoke has been spreading rapidly north-northwest toward Lake Tahoe.

In the satellite photo taken at 5:21 p.m. PDT the smoke has reached a high enough altitude to clearly show a shadow on the east side.

Satellite photo showing smoke from fires in California
Satellite photo showing smoke from fires in California at 6:01 p.m. PDT Sept 5, 2020. NASA/Wildfire Today.

Firefighters at the scene are challenged by steep rugged terrain, heavy fuel loading, and high temperatures. Additional resources have been ordered including a Type 1 Incident Management Team. Evacuations and closures are in effect.

Creek Fire
The Creek Fire as seen from MeadowLakes, looking northeast at 5:11 p.m. PDT Sept 5, 2020.

30 homes reported destroyed in the Creek Fire

The Creek Fire has burned 11,337 acres in Los Angeles. The nearby Rye Fire in Santa Clarita was mapped at 7,000 acres.

map creek fire rye fire
Map showing heat detected by a satellite on the Creek and Rye Fires in the Los Angeles Area. The red dots are the most recent, detected at 12:40 a.m. PST December 6, 2017. It is likely that some areas with light vegetation burned and then cooled before the heat sensors on the satellite detected them on the subsequent pass, and therefore do not show up.

The Creek Fire on both sides of the 210 freeway in Los Angeles has burned 11,377 acres and destroyed 30 homes. Three firefighters have been injured and 30 horses were killed.

Both sides of the 210 freeway near Sylmar that had been closed, reopened Wednesday morning. The fire started early Tuesday morning in the Kagel Canyon area.

Another fire in the same general area has burned 7,000 acres. The Rye Fire was reported Tuesday morning in Santa Clarita near Castaic Junction, the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 126. Officials are considering lifting some of the mandatory evacuation orders. About 775 firefighters are on scene.

SoCal wildfires as seen from space

This NASA satellite photo of smoke from the wildfires in Southern California was captured and edited by Pierre Markuse. His description:  “Mixed natural-NIR/SWIR with enhanced contrast and saturation. California wildfires #USA 5 December 2017”.

Three large SoCal wildfires in one photo

Creek Fire Rye Fire Thomas Fire
From near to far, Creek Fire, Rye Fire, and Thomas Fire.

The ABC7 helicopter crew was able to get all three large Southern California fires on one photo at 1:03 p.m. PST today. The nearest one is the 11,000-acre Creek Fire that has closed and crossed the 210 freeway near Sylmar. Next is the Rye Fire, which we have not yet written about. It has burned about 1,000 acres in Santa Clarita.

In the distance is the 45,000-acre Thomas Fire which has burned into Ventura.