More than 500 firefighters were battling a wildfire yesterday that had scorched 13,500 acres near Mono Lake.
As of Monday morning, those firefighters looked to be gaining a cautious upper hand on the Indian Fire, which was reported to be 70 percent contained.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, the fire broke out southeast of Mono Lake, north of State Route 120 around 2 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 8. The fire was started by a lightning strike during summer thunderstorms in the area.
As of Monday, the Forest Service had 18 hand crews, 18 fire engines, five bull dozers, five water tenders, three helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft assigned to the blaze.
Southern California Incident Management Team 3 assumed command of the fire Friday, Aug. 10, and has been staging its efforts from Lee Vining.
Since the fire was first reported last week, firefighters have had to contend with high temperatures, low humidity, winds and more thunderstorms.
The fire is also burning in sensitive sage grouse habitat.
“Firefighters both on the ground and in the air are aggressively fighting the fire with 551 people committed to the effort,” Fire Information Officer Marc Peebles said. “Although cooler weather and light precipitation on parts of the fire helped slow the progress of the fire, fuels remain very dry.”
Peebles said firefighters will continue to build and improve containment lines over the next several days.
“As the firefighting effort lessens, crews will focus on the restoration of impacts caused by the fire suppression,” Peebles said.
Local biologists and botanists from the Bureau of Land Management are currently working directly with firefighters to minimize damage to the sage grouse habitat.
Peebles said the priority for firefighters is to keep the Indian Fire from spreading north of S.R. 120 East, and ensure that the amount of sage grouse habitat that is burned is kept to a minimum.
“Incident Commander Mike Wakoski would like to thank the community of Lee Vining and the adjacent areas for their support and hospitality to Team 3 and all the firefighters,” Peebles said. “We appreciate the patience and understanding during the incident.”