Widespread thunderstorms ignite multiple fires

USFS news release

Summertime in the Eastern Sierra brings beautiful weather and many times that means thunderstorms that are welcome as they cool off the afternoons and bring much needed rain.

Thunderstorms also mean lightning. Last week the Inyo received a lot of rain and hundreds of lightning strikes. Five small lightning ignited fires were discovered across the Inyo National Forest after the storms and rain moved out.

The Mills Fire was located on the eastern side of the Mono Craters in sparse fuels surrounded by pumice. One engine crew responded to the fire where it was discovered that it had all but gone out after heavy rain doused the area. There will be no further reports on this fire.

The Kelty Fire is located in Kelty Meadows at 9000’ in the Glass Mountains. This fire is less than 1/10th of an acre. Yesterday two engine crews reported the fire was smoldering with minimal activity. Crews will continue to monitor the fire and there will be no other reports unless significant activity occurs.

The Cow Fire is in the Golden Trout Wilderness, southwest of Fat Cow Meadow. The fire is less than 1 acre in size burning at an elevation of 9,500 feet. A helicopter was used to bring in ground crews who reported that the fire is smoldering with minimal activity.

“The safety of firefighters and public are the number one priority on all fires, said Inyo National Forest Supervisor Tammy Randall-Parker. Every fire start is carefully evaluated to weigh the benefits to manage the fire to reduce fuels, increase bio-diversity and improve wildlife habitat”.

Due to the remoteness of this fire, firefighters will scout areas where natural barriers can be used to contain the fire if needed. This tactic will also benefit the wilderness by helping to restore a more natural and resilient fire dependent ecosystem. Updates will be provided as needed.

The Pond Lily Fire is located west of Devils Postpile and Mammoth Lakes in the John Muir Wilderness between Cold Creek and Pond Lily Lake. The fire is being suppressed using ground crews, smokejumpers, and 2 large Type 1 helicopters due to the proximity to the John Muir Trail. The fire is 7.2 acres in size.

The Incident Commander, Jayson Smith, reported moderate fire activity yesterday and that the helicopters made good progress cooling the fire off to allow the smokejumpers and engine crews to get line construction started. Further updates on this fire will be provided

The Springs Fire is located near Pilot Springs, south of Highway 120 East and east of the Mono Craters. This area has seen numerous previous prescribed fires and mechanical thinning treatments. Forest Managers are considering using this fire to continue to further restore ecosystems that are dependent on fire for health and regeneration as well as community protection from future fires. 2,000 to 3,000 acres are being considered for these purposes as 2 engine crews on scene have reported low intensity fire behavior that would make this favorable for fire to reenter the area bringing multiple benefits. Expect frequent updates on the Springs in the days to come.

As mentioned above, the Inyo received hundreds of lightning strikes and management expects “sleeper” fires to pop-up as the week continues to provide ample sunshine that will dry out rain soaked vegetation and fuels.


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