The Tulare County Board of Supervisors (TCBOS) ratified an emergency proclamation on the Cedar Fire at their meeting yesterday, August 23. Tulare County Fire Chief, Charlie Norman, said that this is the biggest fire he has seen in his career. He reported that the fire started Tuesday, August 16 in the Cedar Creek area in Kern County. It has burned 21,000 acres and is only 5% contained.
The fire expanded into Tulare County on the evening of August 17.
Norman said that there were 2000 fire fighters from various agencies fighting the fire and that it has the potential to grow on three sides of the fire’s perimeter.
“Fortunately there have been no fatalities or injuries,” said Norman. When he saw the fire increase from 400 acres to 4000 in the span of 12 hours he had to order a mandatory evacuation of several small south Tulare County mountain communities. Norman described the behavior of the fire as extreme and erratic, commenting how it was not a crown fire, and greatly enhanced by the epidemic tree mortality in the national forest and foothills.
Twelve strike teams are bulldozing large swaths of land and conducting backfires to create fire breaks to protect the mountain communities.
“The biggest priority was to keep the fire out of Panoramic Heights” he said.
Communities came under mandatory evacuation by August 18, when the fire jumped from Kern to Tulare County. Those communities were Sugarloaf, Sugarloaf Mountain Park, Balance Rock, Poso Park, Spear Creek Summer Homes, Idlewild, Panoramic Heights, and McClenney Tract. On August 19, Posey, California Hot Springs, Pine Mountain and Pine Flat received their mandatory evacuation orders. Deputies went door to door in several of these communities to inform the residents of the evacuation order.
An evacuation center was set up in the gymnasium at Granite Hills High School in Porterville. Residents of the effected communities were able to bring their pets to the evacuation center and those with large animals could take them to Terry Way’s Ranch & Equine Rescue (918-541-3572) located at 416 N. Anderson Way in Exeter.
The BOS ratified a proclamation of the first and the second mandatory evacuations that happened on the 18th and 19th of last week. The orders to evacuate were given by Norman and the Director of Emergency Services for the Cedar Fire
The third proclamation was to request that Governor Jerry Brown declare a State of Emergency due to the Cedar Fire, waive any regulations that may hinder response and recovery efforts, and provide any state resources that may be necessary to combat the fire.
According to Director of the Resource Management Agency, Mike Spata, as of day five of the fire, Tulare County had spent $200,000. Fire personnel, equipment and the operations center are the main costs, 75% of which is anticipated to be reimbursed by the state.
Current road closures include Mountain Forest Service Road 23 S 16 above Sugar Loaf; Mountain 9 (M9) into Posey; Mountain Road 50 (M50) at the divide; Avenue 56 eastbound turning into Mountain 56 (M 56) at Mountain Road 109 (Old Stage Coach Rd.); eastbound traffic on Mountain 3.
For the latest evacuation information call (559) 636-5496.