Wildfire Update: Windy almost out, KNP Complex continues to grow on all sides

The Windy Fire remains under 100,000 acres at 88% containment, the KNP Complex Fire approaches 90,000 acres at only 30% containment as of Monday

TULARE COUNTY – Cooler temps and some rainfall have been a welcome site for Valley dwellers, but perhaps nobody appreciated it more than firefighters and mountain residents.

Tulare County Fire Chief, Charlie Norman said fighting the Windy and KNP Complex Fires has been a balancing act. “This has been like juggling plates or juggling chainsaws,” he said in a presentation to the Board of Supervisors last week. However, over the last seven days, personnel fighting back the flames of the two fires in Tulare County have made some notable progress over the last week.

Most of the progress in fighting both fires have been in the Windy Fire. As of Monday, Oct. 11 the blaze has burned through 97,554 acres, but is 88% contained. The estimated date for full containment is as soon as Oct. 14.

The KNP Complex Fire has only continued to rage, though. As of Monday, the fire has burned through 87,468 acres and is only 30% contained. Norman said the fire continues to spread in almost every direction but it has not laid waste to any of the forest’s largest trees. He went on to say that the fire “is going to change the landscape of the park for many, many years to come.”

Firefighting crews had their closest call with death last week when a tree had fallen on four people. The National Park Service stated that at approximately 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 7, all four patients were brought to a nearby “helispot” and were transported to hospitals by air. Fortunately, while the injuries were serious, all four were in stable condition and released from the hospital the following day.

Good news came from the county over the weekend when they announced they downgraded evacuation orders to evacuation warnings. This allowed residents in the communities of Hartland and Eshom Valley to return home on Saturday, Oct. 10. Roadblocks are still in place at Eshom Valley Drive and Pierce Valley Road, though.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks added that they will remain closed and that only fire personnel are allowed inside the park, for now.

“At this time, only residents and business owners are permitted to return. Residents living in these areas may return to their homes after showing proof of residence to law enforcement officers,” a park press release stated.

Unlike the Windy Fire there is not a prognosis for when the fire will be extinguished, and if there is a looming threat, it could be gusts of wind coming through the Valley. The Valley air district also stated that strong gusts of wind have the potential to elevate particulate matter 10 concentrations. They add that residents with heart and long diseases should stay indoors.

“Exposure to particulate pollution can cause serious health problems, aggravate lung disease, trigger asthma attacks and bronchitis, and increase risk of respiratory infections,” an air district press release stated.

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