Fire management officials were working Sunday with the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office to get all of Whitney Portal evacuated as the Inyo Creek Fire continued to burn overnight Saturday and through Sunday.
The fire was expected to establish into Meysan Lake Drainage and move towards the Portal. This is a one-way-in, one-way-out road and it is critical to evacuate to reduce the possibility of a chaotic situation, the Inyo National Forest Service reported Sunday.
The Inyo County Sheriff’s Office physically contacted visitors, residents and business owners and notified them of the evacuation. This consisted of the Mt. Whitney Trailhead, the Whitney Portal Store, Whitney Portal Campground, Recreation Residents, Lone Pine Campground and Meysan Lake Trail.
Caused by lightning, the Inyo Creek Fire was approximately 50 acres Sunday afternoon and burning on the Northeast side of Lone Pine Peak and very close to the Meysan Lake Drainage that runs directly toward Whitney Portal. There was 0% containment because ground crews were limited on taking direct action on the fire due to the steep and rugged terrain the fire is burning in. Helicopters have been providing bucket drops to try to keep the fire in check, however, mechanical problems have limited the number of helicopters that are able to work on that task, the Forest Service reported.
Southwest winds of 10-15 MPH, temperatures more than 100 degrees, and rollout due to the steep terrain have caused the fire to grow. These conditions were expected to continue through Sunday. Gusty winds were expected Sunday night.
The Forest Service noted that it was critical that people stay out of the Whitney Portal area.
“If the fire gets established in the Meysan Lake Drainage, it could move towards the Portal area quickly,” the agency stated.