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FIRE UPDATE, JULY 31: Aspen Fire grows to 14,332 acres, is 35 percent contained

July 30, 2013

Heavy smoke almost blocks out the sun over U.S. 395 Monday evening, July 29. Photo/Jesse Barlet

The Aspen Fire burning on the west side of the Sierra crest about 40 miles west of Bishop and slightly south of Mammoth only grew a few hundred acres yesterday and is now is at 14,332 acres, according to a Wednesday morning (July 31) update from the Sierra National Forest.

The fire is now 35 percent contained (there is a fire line around 35 percent of the fire).

The fire continues to pour heavy smoke into Mammoth, a situation unlikely to change in the near future, according to the National Weather Service, as the prevailing winds for the next few days are predicted to blow from the west and south, bringing the smoke over Mammoth Pass and into Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra.

There are now about 1,792 firefighters assigned to fight the fire. which is burning in steep, heavy timber about seven miles north of the community of Big Creek on the west side of the Sierra crest.

Three structures are threatened, but no lives have been lost. The fire has now cost $10.6 million to fight.

Here is the latest update from the Sierra National Forest, posted at 7 a.m. on July 31:

"The fire is located within the Sierra National Forest in Fresno County and is approximately seven miles North of Big Creek. It is currently burning off Stump Springs Road, North of Aspen Springs. The South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team is in command of the Aspen Fire.

"Over the past several days, the inversion layer has caused smoke to accumulate in the low laying areas of the fire which hampers visibility of firefighters on the ground and in the air. As the smoke clears in the early afternoon, a more defined smoke column(s) may be seen from several miles away. As the evening progresses, the inversion returns causing the smoke to return into the lower levels.

"Recreation and businesses remain open in the Shaver Lake, Huntington Lake, Lake Thomas Edison, Florence Lake and the Mono Hot Springs areas.

"Firefighter and public safety remains the highest priority. Fire crews are being sensitive to environmental and cultural resources in and around the fire area.

"Last night, infrared images showed increased growth along the northern, eastern and southeastern perimeter of the fire. Fire crews made good progress with indirect attack operations.

"Due to the extremely steep, rugged and inaccessible terrain, fire crews are using a tactic called indirect attack which creates control lines away from the fires active edge. Air resources, including several helicopters and air tankers are being utilized along the fire-line to slow the forward progress of the fire and to cool down hot spots. As the situation changes and firefighters can safely gain access to the fire, a more direct attack will be implemented.

"Smoke from the Aspen Fire continues to impact air quality in local communities. Individuals sensitive to smoke are advised to remain indoors and keep windows closed to minimize exposure to smoke. For more information regarding smoke visit: www.valleyair.org

Road and Trail Closures

Roads:

Stump Springs Road is closed to all traffic due to fire suppression activity. Minarets Road (4S81) from Fish Creek to Jackass Rock Organization Campground, Grizzly at Beasore Road to Minarets Road are closed to the public. Residents within the road closure are allowed into the area with valid identification.

Trails:

Per the U.S. Forest Service Closure Order Number 15-13-09, all trails within the Kaiser Wilderness are closed.

Closures

Campground closures within the Sierra National Forest are as follows:

Sample Meadow West Kaiser
Jackass Rock Organization Lower Chiquito
Little Jackass Soda Springs
Placer Sweet Water
China Bar Rock Creek
Mammoth Pool Wagners Mammoth Pool Resort
Fish Creek

The following campgrounds are closed to house firefighters for suppression efforts:

Midge Creek, Badger Flat and Rancheria.

Cooperating agencies include:

"The U.S. Forest Service, National Parks Service, U.S. Department of Defense, National Weather Service, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Fresno County Sheriff, Madera County Sheriff, California Highway Patrol, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Southern California Edison, PG&E, California Conservation Corp.

For more information on this press release or if you have questions regarding the information, please contact the Aspen Fire Information line at (559) 893-7018. Updated information can also be obtained at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3552/ or by following the Sierra National Forest Twitter Account:@sierra_nf

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