Four Fires Plague Southern California

August 24, 2016

Four Fires Plague Southern California

Four Fires Plague Southern California

Dry and hot weather conditions in the southern part of California as well as a spate of careless humans and lightning strikes have created an environment rife for fire outbreaks.  Four very large fires are currently causing havoc in the area and NASA's Suomi NPP satellite's VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument captured this image of all four fires on August 23, 2016. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. 

The Soberanes Fire near Monterey is burning in the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest, Garrapata State Park, areas south of the Carmel Valley and areas surrounding Big Sur. Active fire behavior continues in the south and southeast portions of the fire within the steep, rugged and inaccessible terrain of the Ventana Wilderness Area.  The fire began on July 22, 2016 from an illegal campfire that burned out of control.  The fire is currently 88,654 acres in size and is 60% contained.  Over 1,600 personnel are fighting this fire and apparently it's not only the blaze these firefighters are fighting, they are also battling poison oak.  Firefighters battling the wildfires on the Los Padres National Forest are saying it is the worst they have ever seen. Five hundred firefighters have reported to the fire’s medial units for poison oak related ailments with 200 cases in the past three days.  

The Rey Fire which began on August 18, 2016 under circumstance still under investigation has grown to 31,255 acres with 1,255 personnel battling the blaze.  It is 35% contained at present.  The Rey Fire continues to display extreme fire behavior due to ample fuel burning in some areas with no recorded fire history.  Persistent warm, dry weather over the fire area will continue. Brief periods of critical fire weather conditions are possible.

The Cedar Fire began on August 16th, 2016, again under circumstances that are still under investigation.  It has grown to 22,739 acres and 2,244 personnel are fighting this incident at present.  It is 10% contained to date.  The weather once again is not cooperating with firefighters as it remains sunny with slightly warmer conditions. It will become drier with relative humidity falling into the teens. Winds increasing in the afternoon with ridge and canyon wind gusts around 30 mph.  The drier conditions and wind will serve to increase fire activity.  The Sequoia National Forest issued a closure order effective Saturday, August 20, for lands, roads, and trails near the fire.

The Chimney Fire, which broke out on August 13, 2016, is located at Lake Nacimiento, near Cambria, grew to 40,798 acres and containment increased to 39 percent, according to CAL FIRE.  The cause of this blaze is still under investigation.  This incident is not currently available on Inciweb.  Nearly 1,900 structures are currently threatened and at least 45 homes have been destroyed. Twenty other structures have also been destroyed and seven damaged.  Nearly 4,000 fire personnel are assigned to the fire. CAL FIRE said the fire is burning in steep terrain with very dry brush and timber. High temperatures, low humidity and winds have been challenging to firefighters.  The Hearst Castle remains closed through Sunday, August 28 because of the fire's proximity.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC. Caption by Lynn Jenner with information from Inciweb and CAL FIRE.  Suomi NPP is managed by NASA, NOAA and the U.S. Department of Defense.