Mountain View Fire Moves into Recovery Mode

By: 
Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Reporter

The Mountain View Fire has bypassed the Round Fire of several years ago to become the largest and most destructive fire in Mono County in recent memory, according to the Mono County Sheriff’s Office.
Ninety-six homes were destroyed in a few hours last week in the Antelope Valley/Walker area by the fast-moving wildfire, which was spread by 60-100 mph winds that tore through the unincorporated communities, burning homes, pastureland and ranchland indiscriminately.

When it was over, hundreds of residents had been displaced – at the very beginning of the winter and the holiday season and, in the middle of a fast-accelerating pandemic.

“The Mountain View Fire is the largest and most destructive fire in Mono County in recent memory,” the Mono County Sheriff’s Office said. “The loss of life, homes and property is devastating to our community.”

The Round Fire, which tore through the community of Swall Meadows on Feb. 6, 2015 during a similarly epic winter-time windstorm, burned down 40 homes and until the Mountain View Fire, was considered to be the most destructive wildfire in Mono County history.

The sheriff’s office reported last week that one community member died as a result of the fire and she has now been identified; she is Sallie Joseph, 69. Her body was found in the debris of her burned home on Lone Company Road.

Her family has been notified, “and our hearts go out to them for their loss,” the Sheriff’s office said.

The Mountain View fire was 70 percent contained and at 20,385 acres on Monday morning. In other words, firefighters said, containment line has been secured around 70 percent of the fire perimeter; the remaining 30 percent of the fire is under snow, with fire activity minimal and confined to “ground fire,” they said. This means that stump-holes and underground roots are the only fuels actively burning and they said, although there is still some smoke visible from the fire due to these materials burning, snow melt is aiding in extinguishing these remaining areas of fire.

Generally, they said, there are not enough surface fuels to support more fire spread, although there is some remaining visible smoke coming from individual burning pinyon trees that are well within the secured fire perimeter.

This past weekend, all residents were allowed to return to their property for the first time to assess the damage. Residents face a long recovery process, with a cold winter bearing down, many well-based water systems impacted or polluted, power systems down or impacted and for many, a total loss of all their belongings beyond what they could grab in the few minutes they had as a warning.

The state of California has also now proclaimed a State of Emergency for the Mountain View Fire, allowing local officials and residents to access state funds and reimbursements for some resources, fire officials said Monday.

As of Monday, California Fire Management Team 11 will return management of the Mountain View fire to the hosting agencies: Bureau of Land Management, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest and Antelope Valley Fire Department today at 8 p.m., they said.

The Mountain View Fire began on Tuesday, Nov. 17 just after noon, in the community of Walker.

The cause of the fire is not yet determined but has been possibly linked to a power line issue. When the fire started, the Antelope Valley area was being buffeted by erratic and high-velocity winds reaching as much as 100 mph. The wild winds quickly spread the fire into the surrounding residential neighborhood and within hours, more than 90 structures had burned, including several homes, along with 20,000 acres of pastureland and agricultural land, displacing almost all the residents of Walker and Coleville.

Mono County officials and first responders said it is clear this can be a difficult time for people dealing with this tragedy.

“Those who need, or know of someone who needs, support or to talk to someone can call Mono County Behavioral Health at 760-924-1740,” they said.

For those requiring shelter assistance, the Temporary Evacuation Point (TEP) at Carson Valley Inn, 1627 Highway 395 North, Minden, Nev. remains in place. Red Cross is still providing rooms for displaced residents.

Where and how to make donations? According to the sheriff’s office, at this time, there is no more storage available for donations of food, clothing, or other household items; however, financial donations are gratefully being accepted.

The Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Mammoth Community Foundation (which is the charitable 501(c)(3) of the Mammoth Lakes Chamber of Commerce) and the Northern Mono Chamber of Commerce have partnered to serve as official ambassadors of the Mountain View Fire Relief Fund effort.

Contribution will assist those impacted by the Mountain View Fire by providing funds for immediate needs, including food, clothing, and shelter. Go to mammothlakeschamber.org/ to donate.

Alternatively, checks for the Mountain View Fire Relief Fund may be made out directly to “Northern Mono Chamber of Commerce,” and mailed to: NMCC, 106651 US HWY 395, Coleville, CA 96107. Please note on the subject line: “Mountain View Fire Relief.” Contact the Northern Mono Chamber at 530.828.0826 or nomonochamber@ gmail.com for more information.

MORE RESOURCES
• Damage assessment: Mono County’s initial damage assessment has been completed and can be accessed at https:// on.mono.ca.gov/mountainviewfire.
• Evacuations/closures: The Mono County Sheriff’s Office has lifted the evacuation order for the fire as of this weekend.
• The Mountain View Fire Resources and Recovery page is now live on Facebook. Like and follow this page to stay up to date on the Mountain View Fire as the community moves into recovering and healing:
https://mountainviewfire.monocounty.ca.gov

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