Owens River Fire Cost Tops $1 Million, 32 Percent Contained

Sep 18, 2016

Get the latest information on this fire on InciWeb, or by following the Inyo national Forest on Twitter, @InyoInfo.

Wednesday, 6:23 a.m. update:

The U.S. Forest Service has announced that the Owens River Fire is officially 5,443 acres, down from their latest estimates of 6,050. The fire is now 32 percent contained.

Deb Schweizer, public affairs officer for the Inyo National Forest, says that better mapping is responsible for the updated acreage numbers.

More than 630 fire personnel have been battling the blaze, which began Saturday afternoon. Schweizer says the estimated cost of the fighting the fire so far is more than $1.18 million.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Monday, 7:44 p.m. update:

The Owens River Fire near Mammoth Lakes has burned six thousand fifty acres, but firefighters may be getting some help soon in the form of cooler temperatures.

Zach Tolby is with the National Weather Service in Reno. He says a cold front is sweeping through the area this week, which could bring in some additional moisture to the area.

“That’s one of the things that will help a little bit with the fire,” he says. “Even though it is going to get windy, which is a negative, the air is going to moisten up a little bit. Which will help a little bit.”

The blaze, which began Saturday afternoon, remains at 20 percent contained.

Four uninhabited outbuildings, several pieces of heavy equipment and a vehicle have been destroyed.

Monday, 1:37 p.m. update:

Four uninhabited outbuildings and several pieces of heavy equipment have been destroyed in the Owens River Fire. That's according to the latest release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The blaze remains at 6,000 acres and 20 percent containment.

Fire crews today have been focusing on containing spot fires that were caused by Sunday afternoon winds, and will continue to strengthen fire lines and mop up operations along Owens River Road.

Evacuations remain in place for the Big Springs Campground, Clark Canyon. Owens River Road and the Whitmore Springs Roads are closed, and visitors are advised to avoid the Bald Mountain Road.

Sunday, 6:41 p.m. update:

The Owens River Fire is 20 percent contained and has grown to 6,000 acres. Here are some highlights from a press release sent Sunday night to media from the U.S. Forest Service of Inyo National Forest:

Tonight, crews will continue line construction, building out from the south and west flanks to further contain the fire. These evening operations are particularly effective when the fire “lays down” at night with cooler temperatures and allows fire crews to more safely respond to the fire. Crews will monitor the southwest flank to ensure that lines hold and continue protection of ranches and developments in the area. Four uninhabited outbuildings and several pieces of heavy equipment were destroyed during the initial response yesterday. The fire is burning along Owens River Road near Clark Canyon, east of Highway 395 in sagebrush and Jeffrey pine, and annual grasses. The Big Springs Campground, Clark Canyon (a popular climbing area), and nearby ranches and developments have been evacuated. The Owens River Road and the Whitmore Springs Roads are closed and visitors are advised to avoid the Bald Mountain Road as well. For your and fire crew safety, please avoid the fire area. 

Sunday, 11:40 a.m. update:

The Owens River Fire near Clark Canyon and Mammoth Lakes has now burned an estimated 4,500 acres.

250 firefighters are currently at the scene working on building and strengthening containment lines and focusing efforts on protecting nearby private developments and ranches which have been evacuated.

The Big Springs Campground and Clark Canyon have also been evacuated. Deb Schweizer, public affairs officer for the Inyo National Forest, says that approximately 70 people have evacuated in total.

Schweizer says that several structures are threatened and some may have been lost, and that an investigation is ongoing to determine the official damage. She adds that Mammoth Lakes, June Lake and the surrounding areas are safe for now and that she does expect any threats to the 395 corridor.

"We really are asking people if they don't need to be anywhere near that area, don't go there, the Owens River Road," she says. "If you're  not part of the fire, you don't need to be out there right now."

The fire is currently ten percent contained, and believed to be human-caused.

"If it's not a lightning fire, it's a human-caused fire," she says. "We know that we didn't have lightning in the area. We can confirm that by looking at lightning maps."

Schweizer says smoke will be highly visible along the 395 corridor, especially between Lee Vining and Bishop.