Schaeffer Fire continues to burn

Photo by Eleanor Fahey

The Schaeffer Fire has been burning for more than two weeks now in the Sequoia National Forest. The fire started on Saturday, June 24, due to thunderstorm activity in the area.

The Kern River Ranger District began working on the fire in an effort to keep it away from human civilization. On July 3, at 6 p.m. the Central Coast Interagency Incident Management Team assumed command of the fire. According to Inciweb, “management objectives include suppression strategies where efforts will be most successful and to provide for firefighter safety.”

Due to the fire being started by natural causes, the Forest Service initially elected to allow the fire to burn within reason. They have been gradually creating a containment perimeter, but the perimeter is only 25 percent completed. While the perimeter has not changed, the management team is considering making the burn area smaller to prevent the fire from spreading further. As of Tuesday, July 11, the fire had spread to approximately 15,859 acres and is burning within the fire scar of the 2002 McNally Fire.

According to the report, “firefighters have had success with containment efforts supported by recent high moisture levels and slow fire growth through sparse fuels in the McNally burn scar.”
Fire crews continue suppression efforts which include burnouts, or lighting fires ahead of the main fire to suppress the fuel load. Hand crews are also constructing containment lines to keep the fire within a prescribed area. There are also sprinkler systems being installed around structures near the fire in case it burns towards them.

Residents of the Kern River Valley, also likely know about the amount of smoke in the valley. “Smoke is typically greater in the morning and evening hours. Plan outdoor activities for times and places with low smoke levels.” Individuals with respiratory conditions are asked to speak with their doctor and follow their instructions. They are also urged to stay inside as much as possible. Children and the elderly may also be susceptible to adverse effects due to smoke inhalation.

There is also a forest closure that was put into effect on July 8. According to the report, “Sequoia National Forest, Kern River and Western Divide Ranger Districts, Schaeffer Fire Area, Roads and Trails Closure Order is effective from July 8, 2017, until the Schaeffer Fire is declared out.”
The forest service is attempting to keep the fire north of Schaeffer Trail, south of the ridge between Osa Creek and Grouse Canyon, east of Rincon Trail and West of Forest Road 22S05.

Editor’s Note: All information presented in this article was as of 10:19 a.m. on Tuesday, July 11. The Kern Valley Sun will continue to update the article on our Facebook page and website as more information becomes available.