(TNS) - The Creek Fire has grown to 162,833 acres but remained at 0% containment Tuesday night, even as Cal Fire and other agencies announced some positive developments in the blaze afflicting Fresno and Madera county mountain towns.
Here are some of the highlights from a 7 p.m. news conference, the second of what are scheduled to be daily updates. It was again held virtually at Sierra High in Tollhouse, but some questions posted by Facebook users were addressed.
Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Brandon Pursell said 30,000 people in Fresno County have been evacuated.
Madera County Sheriff Cmdr. Bill Ward said 4,000 people have been evacuated there, with another 15,000 still under evacuation orders.
Some 365 structures, which include homes, businesses and minor buildings are damaged or destroyed, though a full damage assessment has not been completed, said Marty Adell, deputy incident commander of the Great Basin National Incident Management Team 1.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Pursell said the Edison Campground at Shaver Lake “is in the area that has fire.”
“That area has received some damage,” he said.
Pursell indicated Lake Edison, however, “is in great shape” and continues to be used as a refuge for those caught in the backcountry until evacuations can be arranged.
Though the fire continued to grow Tuesday, the rate of growth did slow despite warnings of potentially significant wind.
Sierra National Forest spokesman Dean Gould pointed out on the first day, 45,000 acres were charred, but on Tuesday, there were 21,000 acres added to the total.
“We’ve had a significant drop in the overall rate of growth for the incidents,” he said. “21,000 acres is still a phenomenal amount. That would be a significant incident. That just kind of puts into perspective what this incident really is; at 21,000 acres itself (it) may call for a Type 1 team, but at least it’s starting to trend in that positive direction.”
There is an area at the southwest edge of the fire zone, west of Shaver Lake, that is “starting to look pretty good,” Gould said. It was near Shaver that the fire broke out about 6:30 p.m. Friday.
“Maybe that place,” he said, “where we will be able to get an anchor point from and sink our teeth into and really start to get some control on this, and containment, and make some progress. Still a lot to do.”
Evacuees must remain patient
It is understandable, Adell said, that residents want a quick update on the current situation in the mountain communities.
But everyone continues to caution that the all-clear sign for evacuees to return and assess what is left of their homes and property remains a long way off.
“We understand what you’re going through,” Adell said. “A lot of us come from fire-prone areas ourselves. We’ve been in this business for a long time. We recognized the blunt force that you’re taking right now.
“We’re going to try everything in our power to give you the information and get you back into the homes in the areas you call home. We’ll do that as quickly as we can.”
Firefighters are working nonstop, with crews working 16- or 24-hour shifts, rotating on and off the fire line.
Deputies from Fresno and Madera counties continue to patrol in the evacuation zones, but Pursell still advises affected residents to lock their doors and windows before leaving the area.
“We understand these are tough tasks that we’re doing with the community here, (asking you) to walk away from everything you have,” Pursell said. “Do all of that you normally would (in) leaving your home. Keep it as safe as possible.”
For missing persons contact: Fresno County Sheriff 559-600-3111 or Madera County Sheriff 559-658-2555.
Temporary evacuation points: Fresno County, Clovis North High School, 2770 E. International Ave., Clovis. Madera County, Mariposa County Fairgrounds, 5007 Fairgrounds Road, Mariposa.
Animal evacuation: Fresno County — Small animals, Clovis North. Large animals, Clovis Rodeo Grounds 748 Rodeo Drive, Clovis.
Madera County — Small animals, Oakhurst Community Center 39800 Road 425B Oakhurst. Horses only, Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds 44777 Rodeo Grounds Lane, Coarsegold.
Sign up for emergency alerts
Fresno County: Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, sign up at https://t.co/Otack9NyKc?amp=1
Madera County: Madera County Emergency Warning Systems, at mcalert.org
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