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Fire scorches 2,000 acres south of Big Pine

September 15, 2011

A picture of the John Fire taken at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, from a distance, shows the magnitude and scope of the fire that started Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. approximately two miles south of Big Pine. The fire first traveled west before winds turned the flames north. As of Wednesday afternoon it had consumed 2,000 acres and was 15 percent contained. More than 500 personnel have been called to battle the blaze. Photo by Mark Hodges

A fire south of Big Pine had burned 2,000 acres as of Wednesday morning and was reportedly 15 percent contained. While there have been no reports of any lightning in the area at the time the blaze broke out Tuesday afternoon, the cause of the fire is under investigation.
More than 500 personnel have been assigned to the help fight the fire.
There is a standing evacuation advisory in place for residents who live in southwest Big Pine and several roads remained closed, including Crocker/Glacier Lodge west of West Street, Pole Line Road and McMurry Meadows Road.
According to a press release issued at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday by CalFire, “While the fire shows little smoke or flame this morning, there are several hot spots throughout the fire that have the potential to flare up and consume additional acreage.”
The fire originated approximately two miles south of Big Pine at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and rapidly moved west until a wind shift forced the flames south, according to a joint press release from the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department and CalFire. The flames moved up and over Crater Mountain, the prominent volcanic-red cinder cone on the west side of U.S. 395.
No structures have been threatened, but as of 11 a.m. Wednesday an evacuation advisory was still in effect for nearby residents living west of U.S. 395 and south of Walnut Street. The advisory was issued at 10 p.m. Tuesday. CODE Red, the county’s reverse 9-1-1 emergency notification system, will be used to contact residents in case of an evacuation order or to disseminate additional information.
An evacuation center has been set up at the the Big Pine Tribe Gymnasium, according to Carma Roper, public information officer for the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department.
Glenn Barley, information officer for CalFire, said at noon Wednesday that some aircraft were being released from the fire scene. “That’s a good sign,” he added that the weather at noon was calm, but a cloud cell was building over the mountains to the west and if the cell moved over the valley, winds could accompany it and hamper firefighting efforts.
CalFire is the lead agency on the blaze with the assistance from California Highway Patrol, Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and resources from the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and from the fire departments of Big Pine, Bishop and Mammoth. A total of 525 personnel are helping fight the fire, including 31 engines, 25 hand crews, 12 water tenders, two bull-dozers, nine fixed-wing planes and six helicopters.
There have been no reports of any injuries.

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