MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. — On Labor Day evening, September 5, a small fire broke out just north of the Mammoth Scenic Loop, named the Scenic Fire. The following day, investigators officially concluded the fire was caused by an illegal campfire that had escaped.
As seen in the picture below, the area circled in yellow did not burn. Here is where the person who created it most likely thought they had put it out. The area circled in red shows where the fire was still hot and escaped.
U.S. Forest Service firefighters responded to the fire, reported by a visitor passing by on their side-by-side, where they were able to contain it to a quarter-acre.
During the second operational shift however, the fire spotted an additional quarter acre approximately 200 feet away from the main body of the fire. It was detected and quickly contained by 9:00 a.m. before it hit a patch of dried-out tree snags.
Firefighters will continue mopping up and inspecting the fire daily for any hot spots for several days before declaring the fire “controlled and out.”
This is a good reminder for everyone visiting our Forest about why we have fire restrictions. Any dispersed campfire, no matter if you think you’ve extinguished it or not, could escape and cause a wildfire. Dispersed campfires are prohibited during stage 1 fire restrictions.
“With extreme heating temperatures and relative humidities dropping to single digits in the afternoons, any human-caused wildfire has the potential for large fire growth,” said Acting Fire Chief Chance Traub.
“We want to reiterate how important it is to follow our fire restrictions. When the winds come, fires like these could turn into something much worse.”
Inyo National Forest firefighters are greatly appreciative of the interagency efforts contributed by the Mammoth Lakes and June Lakes Fire Departments, and cover resource engines from out of the state who also assisted on this fire.