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Whitney Portal campgrounds evacuated as Georges fire grows in Inyo County

The Georges fire in Inyo County grew to 2,500 acres Tuesday fueled by a monsoonal weather pattern that brought lightning storms and gusty winds to the eastern Sierra Nevada this weekend.

Firefighting efforts are concentrated on the lightning-caused fire’s southern flank near Whitney Portal, a popular starting point for hikes up Mt. Whitney. Campgrounds, homes and the Whitney Portal Store were closed Tuesday as the fire approached the area.

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The blaze is 10% contained and is feeding on sage brush as well as pinyon-juniper forest as it moves into higher elevations. Steep terrain and thick fuels near Whitney Portal will pose a challenge for firefighting, authorities said.

The western flank is burning into steep terrain but is expected to “rock out” as the flames run out of fuel and run into granite cliffs.

Hikers with permits for the Whitney Portal and Shepherd Pass Trailhead cannot begin their hikes.

A lightning strike Sunday started the blaze, which grew quickly as erratic winds hit the area.

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