Visalia · Wildfires

Sequoia fires shifts evacuation orders, sends smoke billowing

The pair of firefighting theaters in the Sequoias have driven up air quality warnings along the San Joaquin Valley floor and dry conditions in the foothills prompted fresh evacuation orders.

The two blazes have sent plumes of smoke into the air, blanketing the San Joaquin Valley basin.

Tulare County’s AQI hovered at 180 on Monday, with the Tuesday air quality forecasted for 181. In neighboring Kern and Fresno counties, AQI sat at 154 and 126, respectively.

The air quality for Tulare and Kern counties is considered “unhealthy” for all populations.

Tulare Co. Sheriff tweaks evacuation orders

Sunday night, as the KNP Complex Fire near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks blazed, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux issued an evacuation order for residences in the Mineral King area.

The order covered Mineral King Road from Highway 198 to Oak Grove Bridge – including Crest, Sierra King, Hammond, and Oak Grove.

Highway 198 remains closed at Mineral King Road.

Evacuation warnings remain in place for residents living from Old Three Rivers Road to Blossom Drive to South Fork Drive. It stretches down Highway 198 before the closure at Mineral King Drive and includes all side roads along the highway.

Meanwhile, Boudreaux downgraded an evacuation order to a warning for communities affected by the Windy Fire in the Sequoia National Forest. The order covered California Hot Springs and Pine Flat.

Evacuation orders related to the Windy Fire still in effect cover White River Summer Home Tract, Sugarloaf Saw Mill, and Sugarloaf Mountain Park.

Firefighters gain considerable ground on blazes

The Windy Fire, which exceeded the initially larger KNP Complex, sits at 94,746 acres affected, fire officials said.

The KNP Complex is currently at 67,708 acres affected, U.S. Forest Service data reports.

Despite the size of the blazes, containment between the two are in stark contrast. Windy Fire containment has reached 68 percent with 2,284 firefighting personnel on the ground.

The KNP Complex, meanwhile, sits at 11 percent containment with 1,534 firefighting personnel helping stave off destruction on key landmarks within the two national parks along with residences in the neighboring area.

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.