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The Mono-logue » Blog Archive » Walker Fire update for Wednesday: 35% contained, Highway 120 open

Walker Fire update for Wednesday: 35% contained, Highway 120 open

August 19th, 2015 by Elin, Communications Coordinator
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A view east toward the Mono Craters from the Walker Fire on Tuesday, August 18. Photo courtesy of incident fire crews.

A view east toward the Mono Craters from the Walker Fire on Tuesday, August 18. Photo courtesy of incident fire crews.

After several days of intense firefighting, the Walker Fire is now 35% contained at 3,715 acres. The fire crews and supporting aircraft have made good progress and as a result, Highway 120 west (the Tioga Road) has been open consistently since Monday afternoon, although no stopping is allowed on the eastern six miles of the road. In addition, the upper Lee Vining Canyon campgrounds were reopened on Monday afternoon, and remain open. The lower Lee Vining Canyon campgrounds remain closed, but from 9:00am until 3:00pm law enforcement will be escorting campers into those campgrounds to retrieve any gear left behind during evacuations. The fire has been determined to be human-caused.

Although Lee Vining remains under alert for possible evacuation, the mood is mainly “business as usual” in town. The air here is mostly clear of smoke, with the occasional plume visible to the southwest behind the hills. We hear helicopters and other aircraft occasionally, reassuring reminders of the firefighters’ diligence and hard work. The Lee Vining Community Center and Hess Park have been taken over by the firefighters as a base of operations, buzzing with activity.

Over the weekend, when the fire was more active and the chance of evacuation higher, we here at the Mono Lake Committee lined up places for all our staff who live in Lee Vining to go and stay if they had to leave town. We polished our evacuation plan, with several priority levels of items to grab from the office depending on how much time we might be given to evacuate. We did extra backing-up of our digital files. Staff who live in neighboring Mono City, June Lake, and Mammoth Lakes come to work each day with emptied cars, ready to whisk office items out of town should the need arise. We are prepared and ready, but increasingly reassured by the firefighters’ progress that evacuation may not be necessary.

We have been so impressed by the agency and local department response to the Walker Fire. With nearly 500 firefighters in 34 engines and ten crews, four helicopters, two air tankers, and two dozers deployed to this fire, we know without a doubt that everyone is working hard to get the fire contained and out as soon as possible. They’re estimating that the fire might be fully contained by Sunday night, and we could not be more grateful for everyone’s efforts. Thank you, firefighters.

You can see some photos from the fire scene here on the Inyo National Forest’s Facebook page. The Mono County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page is another good resource for updates, as well as the InciWeb Incident Information System website.

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