New Fire Near Sonora Pass Junction Closes U.S. 395; Grows to 3,000-Plus-Acres

Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Reporter

A new fire ignited in the Walker River Canyon the afternoon of Sept. 4, growing to 3,000 acres in less than 24 hours and closing U.S. 395 in both directions much of Tuesday and into Wednesday afternoon when the Times went to press.

The fire, called the Boot Fire, started near the Chris Flat Campground near the entrance to the Walker River Canyon north of Bridgeport. It was burning toward Birchim Flat Road area at press time and was at zero percent contained.

Evacuations were in places for the Bootleg, Chris Flat and Sonora Bridge Campgrounds and structures were threated in the Birchim Flats area, according to fire officials.
The cause of the fire was unknown Wednesday afternoon, according to Erin Holland, the public information officer for the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest Sierra Front Incident Command team that was assigned to the fire.

The fire was on both sides of the highway as of Wednesday, she said, and many more resources were on route to the fire.

“We have about 200 personnel on the fire and we are transitioning from a Type 3 Team to a Type 2 Team this afternoon,” she said.

Type 3 Teams are used for lower priority fires; Type 2 for the next highest priority and Type 1 for highest priority fires.

“The fire burned actively all night and in all directions,” she said. She did not know where the point of origin for the fire was, at press time.

There had been lightning and thunderstorms in the Eastern Sierra the afternoon of the fire and Holland noted the winds from the storms might have contributed to the fire’s rapid, overnight spread.

She said although there has been a slowdown in terms of new fires starting in the region this past two week, the downside is there are still a lot of fire crews “maxed out” from the massive fires of the past two months and thus many crews are now having to take some time off, which means resources for fires are still something of a struggle.

That said, the Boot Fire will get the resources needed, Holland said.

If the location of the fire seems like a case of deja vu to locals, it’s because the Chris Flat Campground area was at the receiving end of a fire last year. Holland noted that there have been many fires this year that seem to be burning very close to where fires burned last year.

“We are seeing the same streets, the same neighborhoods” in the line of fire this year as last year,” she said.

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