A New Wildfire Sends Smoke Up Near Mammoth Mountain

Times Staff Report

Another wildfire is burning near Reds Meadow Valley, after a long-dormant lightning strike grew to 22 acres. The fire is burning in wilderness and is not threatening life or property.

"Fire crews are responding to the Lost Fire, located southwest of the Reds Meadow Valley in the John Muir Wilderness," said Deb Schweizer, the public affairs officer with the Inyo National Forest.

The fire is approximately 22 acres in size and has been determined to be lightning-caused fire from the storm system that passed through the area on Oct. 2, she said.

"This fire is a “sleeper” or “hold-over” fire that was detected (Oct. 16) when activity picked up with drier and warmer conditions," Schweizer said.

The Inyo Hotshots, Crain Valley Hotshots, Inyo’s Crew 2, and Helicopter 525 are suppressing the fire, she said. "Their primary focus is line construction along the eastern flank where the protection of developed areas in the Reds Meadow Valley are the highest priority. Crews are scouting containments lines along the other flanks, looking to construct direct fireline along the fire’s edge. However, steep, inaccessible terrain may dictate that crews go indirect; using trails, ridgelines, and rock barriers to safely contain the fire," she said.

There is currently no threat to life or property. There are no closures at this time, including nearby trails. Smoke is visible from Mammoth Mountain (including from their summit webcam). Smoke may be visible in Mammoth Lakes.

The fire is burning within the perimeter of the 1992 Rainbow Fire and is consuming dead and down fuels from that fire. It is burning in brush and mixed conifer forest. The sun-exposed areas within the Rainbow Fire perimeter are allowing the fuels to dry, Schweizer said. However, the cold, shorter days are moderating fire activity.

Helicopter 525 and Inyo’s Crew 2 are responding and aditional crews have been ordered. There is currently no threat to life or property, Schweizer said.

What makes the fire so unusual is it is burning in October, at a relatively high elevation of about 7,000 acres; it started and kept going after a significant rain storm earlier this month; and it has continued to burn even through the colder than normal temperatures of the past few weeks.