Massive wildfire near Fresno is 25% contained but still disruptive
A massive, slow-burning wildfire that has chewed through Sierra Nevada forests for over a month continues to disrupt end-of-summer travel plans by forcing the closure of campgrounds and prompting health warnings during the Labor Day weekend.
The so-called Rough fire burning east of Fresno grew to 85,894 acres Saturday morning, making it California’s largest active wildfire. It is 25% contained, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
“The weather is helping to slow the rate of spread,” said Lyn Sieliet, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service. “Humidity is high and light winds are pushing the fire back onto itself.”
More than 2,000 firefighters continue to battle the fire, which has consumed trees, chaparral and tall grass in steep hillsides in the Sierra National Forest, Sequoia National Forest and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Heavy smoke blankets the surrounding area, including Cedar Grove, Hoist Ridge and Wishon Reservoir. The clouds of smoke caused park officials to close Kings Canyon campsite and to issue an air quality warning of “unhealthy to very unhealthy.” The conditions are expected to last through the holiday weekend, according to park officials.
The Rough fire was sparked on July 31 by lightning strikes just east of Fresno. Low humidity and warm temperatures fueled the fire, which quickly spread to Hume Lake. On Aug. 20, the fast-moving fire forced the evacuation of 2,500 campers, hikers, employees and residents from Hume Lake Christian Camp and surrounding areas.
Firefighters have gained more control of the fire even as it moves through the John Muir and Monarch wilderness. No evacuations were in effect Saturday.
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