New troubles emerged Tuesday for weary firefighters battling a string a major blazes across the state as another wildfire was reported near Springville in Tulare County.
The Tule Fire had blackened about 750 acres Tuesday afternoon near Coffee Camp on Highway 190, above Springville, the U.S. Forest Service reported. Hours later, Tulare County officials announced the fire had been contained.
Lightning strikes on Monday sparked a half-dozen new fires in the southern Sierra Nevada. Although fire officials expected to contain all of them, they pulled off some crews from the Cedar Fire near Lake Isabella to help quash those new blazes before they got out of hand.
Meanwhile to the south, the Cedar Fire that has threatened communities near Lake Isabella and near the Tulare-Kern County border had grown to 21,017 acres and still was just 5 percent contained.
But the Forest Service said firefighters were ready for the challenge brought by the thunderstorm and successfully kept the fire from advancing on structures in Wofford Heights and Panorama Heights, both above Lake Isabella. Firefighters continued to use night-flight helicopters to drop water on key areas.
The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department has ordered mandatory evacuations for several communities in southeast Tulare County: Posey, Pine Flat, Pine Mountain, Sugar Loaf (including Sugar Mountain Park and Sugar Loaf Village), California Hot Springs, Panorama Heights, McClenny Tract, Sugar Creek Mountain Homes, White River Summer Homes, Portuguese Meadow, Balance Rock, Idlewild and Poso Peak.
The Sheriff’s Department said residents in neighboring areas are encouraged to prepare for evacuation.
The Sheriff’s Department issued road closures for Tulare County portions of Highway 155, Highway 90, Old State Road, Mountain Forest Service Road 23 S 16 above Sugarloaf, Mountain 9 into Posey, Mountain 50 at the divide, Avenue 56 at Road 109 (Old Stage Coach Road) and eastbound Mountain 3.
An American Red Cross evacuation shelter is open at Granite Hills High School, 1701 E. Putnam Ave. in east Porterville. It’s set up to accommodate small pets.
Evacuees with large animals and livestock may make shelter arrangements with Terry Way’s Ranch and Equine Rescue in Exeter; call 918-541-3572.
A full-service shelter is also in place at the First Baptist Church of Lake Isabella and farther east at South Fork Elementary School in Weldon.
The Cedar Fire began Aug. 16 east of Glennville. The cause is under investigation.
▪ The Chimney Fire burning near Hearst Castle had grown by about 4,000 acres overnight Monday to 37,101 acres and still was just 35 percent contained. Winds on Tuesday were pushing the flames north, creating challenges for firefighters.
“Anytime those winds pick up, it creates extreme fire behavior,” Cal Fire spokesman Mark Beveridge said, noting this was also likely the reason boating activity west of Las Tablas Creek in Lake Nacimiento was stopped Tuesday afternoon.
The fire has destroyed 52 structures and threatened Hearst Castle, prompting the state parks department to cancel tours. Cal Fire officials said Tuesday the flames are estimated to be 2 to 3 miles from the historic landmark and are not a threat at the moment, but crews are prepared to set backfires to create a fire break near the site if needed.
▪ Soberanes Fire burning south of Carmel Valley along the Big Sur coast has now blackened 87,316 acres and is 60 percent contained. It was sparked by an illegal campfire. All state parks from Garrapata State park through Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park are closed.
▪ In Southern California, the Blue Cut Fire that destroyed hundreds of homes and outbuildings and closed Interstate 15 for a time is now fully contained. The fire swept through 36,274 acres northwest of San Bernardino.