In the News - Friday, July 26, 2013
Lightning sparks fires in high country
Those exceptionally clear Kaweah Country views on Tuesday, July 23, gave way to hazy air by Wednesday as the smoke from several fires in the nearby mountains impacted the east side of the Valley and foothills from Merced County to Kern County. The smoke prompted local air officials to issue a health cautionary statement.
“If you can see or smell smoke in your area, you are most likely being affected,” said Samir Sheikh, the Air District’s director of air quality analysis. “If possible stay inside to avoid breathing the smoke.”
The largest of the spate of lightning-caused fires is the Aspen Fire (300-plus acres) burning in a Fresno County portion of the Sierra National Forest. The Aspen Fire has the potential to make large uphill runs and threaten the Stump Hill Springs area.
Smoke has been impacting the Shaver and Huntington lakes areas on the west side of the Sierra and the Mammoth Lakes region on the east side.
Six new fires were reported in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. All are burning in high country areas and, as of July 24, none were reported to be larger than one-quarter of an acre. The closest fire to a developed area was the Silliman Fire, discovered less than a quarter mile from Lodgepole.
The Silliman Fire was burning in a single red fir tree at an elevation of 6,700 feet. That blaze was extinguished and is currently being monitored for any smoke or fire activity.
Two other small blazes near the South Fork portion of the park have been suppressed. The Cahoon Fire, near the now-dismantled Cahoon Rock fire lookout, was extinguished.
The Dennison Fire, near Dennison Mountain, which overlooks upper South Fork Drive, will also be suppressed. The fire is in the southwest corner of Sequoia National Park and close to its western boundary.
Another fire, a half-mile west of Hockett Meadow, is being monitored to assess its management potential as a prescribed fire. The Hockett Fire is near a tributary of Whitman Creek at about 8,500 feet elevation.
In 2009, the Horse Fire was ignited by lightning on July 19. It was located just a half-mile south of the Hockett Meadow Ranger Station.
That fire was managed for its resource benefits and continued to burn until winter arrived. As of the end of September that year, the fire had burned nearly 500 acres over the nine-week period and was monitored round-the-clock by a fire crew stationed at the meadow.
Another small fire was spotted burning in the Skagway Grove of giant sequoias at 5,500 feet in elevation in the northwest section of Sequoia National Park. A helicopter making water drops and a five-person ground crew assisted in the suppression of that blaze.
One fire was discovered in the backcountry of Kings Canyon National Park. It is burning in a single tree at the 8,800 feet elevation east of Lower Tent Meadow in an area that is inaccessible to firefighters. It will continue to be monitored by air.
Smoke from fires produces fine-particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause serious health problems including lung disease, asthma attacks, and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Older adults and children should avoid prolonged exposure or heavy exertion, depending on the local conditions.
Air pollution levels during episodes for Kaweah Country are generally highest in the evening and early morning.
Locally, however, smoke from the six Sequoia-Kings Canyon fires currently discovered is not expected to cause residual effects in the Kaweah canyon.
3R motorist injured in solo rollover
Traffic on Highway 198 was snarled Wednesday, July 27, when an 87-year-old Three Rivers resident rolled his 2002 Ford Windstar van. The vehicle was headed eastbound at 3:30 p.m., and had just passed the highway’s junction with the west end Pierce Drive, when the accident occurred.
A CHP investigator described the damage to the vehicle as “major.” The driver was treated at the scene and then transported via Exeter Ambulance to Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia.
The extent of the injuries to the driver was not contained in the preliminary accident report. The cause of the solo rollover is pending the completion of the CHP investigation.
High winds topple trees
Campers narrowly escape injury
The low-pressure system that arrived in the Sierra region during the weekend of July 20 and 21 and into Monday dumped up to an inch of rain during thunderstorms throughout Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and surrounding lands and including popular summer destinations such as Mineral King, Giant Forest, Lodgepole and Grant Grove.
Heavy winds in the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park in the overnight hours of July 21 and 22 caused numerous trees to become uprooted or drop large branches.
The trees, several of which were up to 40 inches in diameter, fell in the Azalea and Sunset campgrounds, narrowly missing visitors. Trees also brought down power lines, which knocked out electricity and phone service to Grant Grove Village.
According to Dana Dierkes, public information officer with the local National Park Service, no injuries were reported and property damage was minimal as a result of the storm.
Cleanup at Paradise Creek
The National Park Service at Sequoia and Kings Canyon is proactive in the ongoing battle against graffiti. Those who come to the parks with the intention of tagging are mostly river users who tend to stay in the foothills region.
Last week, volunteers were summoned to remove the red paint on the railings of the Paradise Creek footbridge. These handrails were recently installed but were soon vandalized.
The Paradise Creek trail leaves Buckeye Flat Campground and follows the Kaweah’s Middle Fork before crossing the river and heading a short way up the creek.
Three Rivers Library has ‘Friends’ again
It’s a wonder anyone ever found the Three Rivers Library in the past. Since its opening in 1977, there has never been any signage on the building. But the nonprofit “Friends of the Three Rivers Library” put an end to that nonsense by placing not one, but two signs, on the building, leaving no doubt for newcomers and travelers as to what this building might contain.
Other Friends projects have been the addition of a screen to the deck door so it can be left open on pleasant spring and fall days without an onslaught of flying insects coming inside. They have added a picnic table and umbrella to the deck for the comfort of those who wish to take their reading and research outdoors.
The group has also been dealing with the County of Tulare and received a commitment that renovations to the library’s back deck would be occurring. And there are ongoing dealings with the county librarian, Jeff Scott, on other upgrades and projects to the local library.
The Friends board meets on a monthly basis; date and time to be determined. The Friends of the Library officers are Kathleen McCleary, president; Deniese Nesmith, vice president; and Marcia Goldstein, secretary/ treasurer.
HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO...
Bruce and Pat Turner celebrate 70 years of marriage
Bruce and Patricia Turner will celebrate 70 years of marriage on Wednesday, July 31. In 1943, Bruce and Pat were married in Shawnee, Okla., just after Bruce entered the U.S. Navy during World War II.
The couple built a life together that now includes five children, eight grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.
Bruce and Pat have lived in Three Rivers for more than 30 years. They agree that this has been a dream come true and will tell you the best in life is yet to come.