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Tuesday’s Creek Fire Updates: 16% Containment, 555 Structures Destroyed, Huntington ‘Fire Tornado’ 1,400 Degrees



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The Creek Fire continues as a threat to some foothill communities, but firefighters increased containment on Monday, Cal Fire officials said.

In Madera County, Cal Fire said, “particular attention will be paid to areas that could make a run toward (the) communities of Central Camp, South Fork Bluffs, and Whiskey Falls.”

The blaze that began Friday, Sept. 4, grew by about 18,000 acres to 220,025 acres on Tuesday morning as warm, dry conditions contributed to fire activity.

During Monday night’s incident briefing, authorities said the wildfire was 16% contained — up 6% from Sunday. There are 2,623 personnel working the wildfire spanning Fresno and Madera counties.

Good news came in the easing of some evacuation orders, but an estimated 10,000 residents remain displaced. Residents can check the orders for their address at this link.

There was a scare Monday when the fire spread in Jose Basin and threatened several structures, officials said. But firefighters corraled the spread and no buildings burned.

Damage Assessment is 46% Complete

Assessment damage is now 46% complete, an increase of 10%. Cal Fire said the wildfire has destroyed 555 buildings and damaged 47 as of Tuesday morning.

Threatened structures total 11,256.

The fire’s most active area Monday in Fresno County was “the northeast portion of the fire, burning toward the Ansel Adams Wilderness,” authorities said. But they expected the spread to slow as that part of the fire burns into rocky terrain.

In Madera County, Cal Fire said, “particular attention will be paid to areas that could make a run toward (the) communities of Central Camp, South Fork Bluffs, and Whiskey Falls.”

Residents Allow to Return, Evacuation Orders Change

The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office downgraded evacuation orders to warnings in more areas Tuesday afternoon, thus allowing more residents to return home.

To check out the latest zones, click on this link.

For additional information, click on this link.

Evacuation map for Fresno and Madera counties as of Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 15, 2020. (U.S. Forest Service)

Huntington Lake ‘Fire Tornado’ Hit 1,400 Degrees: Costa

In a Zoom interview with  GV Wire℠ on Monday, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) said that fire officials estimated the temperatures of a “fire tornado” at Huntington Lake in the Creek Fire’s early stages at 1,400 degrees.

The fire tornado “literally toppled trees 100- and 150-feet tall,” Costa said. “Their roots now are burning, creating another source of fire.”

The fire tornado devastated the Huckleberry Tract of cabins near the lake’s shore.

Costa is a co-sponsor of the bipartisan Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act. The bill addresses the long-term management of federal forests on four fronts:

— Wildfire mitigation projects

— Supporting healthier forests more resilient to climate change

— Energy and retrofit assistance to better protect businesses and residences in wildfire zones

— Incentivize the collection of wood biomass and make biomass processing more economically viable

With bipartisan support from U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Steve Daines (R-Montana) and the deadly wildfires now burning up and down the West Coast, the bill’s prospects for passage are good, Costa said.

The Wilderness Society said that it “strongly opposes” parts of the bill.

Huckleberry Tract at Huntington Lake. Legend: green is unharmed by fire; magenta is fire-damaged. (Huntington Lake Volunteer Fire Dept.)

Watch: Rep. Jim Costa Explains Wildfire Legislation

More Than 2,600 Personnel Deployed to Creek Fire

There are 2,623 personnel fighting the Creek Fire as of today. The other assigned resources: 281 engines, 76 dozers, 66 water tenders, 29 hand crews, 18 helicopters.

Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email