In a press release dated January 18, 2014, US Forest Service officials in Sequoia National Forest report that ground crews have gained access to the Soda Fire, which has grown to 515 acres. Heavy smoke and snow-blocked roads had prevented several previous attempts to insert ground crews for fire management.
Forest officials have been monitoring the fire by air since its discovery a week ago. After several failed attempts to reach the fire by helicopter, road crews began to clear snow that was blocking access to the Clicks Creek trailhead, the closest trail to area of fire activity. According to the press release, smoke in the area finally cleared adequately to allow helicopter access to the fire. Firefighters were able to begin investigating and mapping the fire and scouting other access points for confinement.
Although the road has been cleared beyond the location where the trail crosses the road--approximately 5 miles from the fire--officials have determined that ground crews need not be inserted to manage the fire until it gets closer to the trail. The road remains closed to the public. The trail itself is reportedly covered in deep snow and ice, but the road and trails may eventually be used as a contingency route to the fire. No other roads traverse the rugged fire area.
The Soda Fire is burning in the Golden Trout Wilderness area of the national forest and started approximately 1 mile west of Gray Meadow. The fire is bordered to the south by Click's Creek and is growing to the east and northwest with the aid of gusty winds from the south and southeast. No torching has been observed; flames of 1-2 feet are burning in the understory around snow. The cause of the wildfire remains under investigation.
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