The Glacier View Trailer Park in Big Pine was hit hard by the fire Friday night. Officials reported that approximately 8 mobile homes were lost to the blaze in the park alone. An additional 11 homes were burned in other areas of Big Pine. Photo by Mike Gervais
A fire that broke out west of Big Pine prompted wide-spread mandatory evacuation orders Friday evening.
Details on the movement of the fire are scarce. The blaze was first reported shortly before 4 p.m. California Highway Patrol officers at the scene at about 5 p.m. reported that the Bernasconi Center had not been damaged, but a wood shed at Palisade Glacier High School had been burned.
By 6 p.m. Friday, U.S. 395 was closed from Bishop to Independence with reports of the fire threatening to jump County Road west of the highway.
It is unclear at this time if any homes were lost to the blaze.
Those who were evacuated were initially directed to Big Pine High School, but as the fire spread and the number of displaced grew, residents were directed to the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop.
As of 6:30 p.m. Friday CalFire reported that more than 300 homes had been evacuated and the blaze had burned approximately 800 acres.
Calfire Public Information Officer Julie Hutchinsen reported Saturday morning that approximately 19 homes in the Big Pine area were damaged or destroyed Friday night.
As of noon, the fire was approximately 45 percent contained and its growth had stopped.
Hutchinsen reported that the strong winds that had fueled the fire's rapid growth Friday evening began to calm around 9 p.m., giving more than 220 firefighters the opportunity they needed to get a leg up on the blaze.
"Just prior to the winds dying down at about 9 p.m., the fire was spreading very fast and managed to jump the highway."
While the blaze did cross to the east side of U.S. 394, rumors that the Roosevelt Tree at the intersection of U.S. 395 and State Route 168 had burned proved false.
No deaths have been reported in relation to the fire, but Hutchinsen said one Inyo County Sheriff's deputy was injured by flying debris Friday night. That injury, she added, was caused by wind, not fire.
"Everyone worked so well together, the local fire agencies really deserve some recognition. The first responders had to wait four hours for back-up from down south, and they just did a phenomenal job," Hutchinsen said.