Wildfire Smoke in the Eastern Sierra

Smoke from wildfires, both old and new continues to drift into the Eastern Sierra.

Over the weekend lightning storms ignited hundreds of fires across much of California, from the Coast Range to the Sierra foothills.

One series of fires, the Merced, Mariposa, Merced Unit is suspected to be the main source for the smoke that filled Mammoth Monday. The largest in this 15 fire complex is the Cunningham Fire, which is listed at 3,150 acres at last report.

In the Owens Valley, the smoke is likely from the Clover Fire. This fire is burning in the Jeffrey Pine and Pinyon forests north of Kennedy Meadows and south west of Olancha. The Clover fire was started by lightning on May 31. Ranchers to the West of Olancha have been put on evacuation notice as this fire has burned into Inyo County.

At last report, this fire had grown about 1000 acres over the weekend for a total of 3900 acres involved. Fire Officials report that containment efforts were lost when the fire jumped the Kern River. Currently the fire is listed at 0% contained.

Last week about 100 firefighters worked the clover fire, including a hot shot crew. 289 fire fighters had been assigned to this fire by Monday with more expected to arrive today.

When we spoke to CalFire Division Chief Roger Thompson by phone, he was working on a 52,000 acre fire near Monterey. He explained that the fuels are still dry from last year and is added to by the record dry spring this year. With this string of fires across the state, Thompson says that while you would think that its August, its only June. This year will be a year of timber fires, he says.

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