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Soda Fire grows, remains inaccessible by firefighters

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Heavy smoke again deterred efforts to insert firefighters in the area of the growing Soda Fire, according to a US Forest Service press release dated January 16, 2014. Officials from the Western Divide Ranger District in the Sequoia National Forest also reported that the fire has grown to 182 acres since being discovered two days ago.

The attempt was the second made to get crews on the ground to confine the fire by accessing the area via helicopter. Safety concerns as well as heavy smoke inversion have made landing in nearby Gray Meadow impossible. Efforts to insert firefighters into the rugged and steep terrain in the vicinity of the fire are ongoing. Although the helicopter used today was reportedly diverted to the Colby Fire in southern California, a new helicopter will be available on Friday.

The Soda Fire has expanded to the north and the west. Burning in timber and brush amid patchy snow and bordered in all directions by snow banks, the fire is characterized by flames of 1 to 2 feet but no tree torching. According to USFS officials, the fire is burning in the understory at a slow to moderate rate and has a medium growth potential.

Containment of the fire has been further limited by its remote location in the Golden Trout Wilderness area of the national forest. The Click's Creek vicinity where the fire burns is inaccessible by road, and the road to the nearest trailhead is covered with drifted snow. Elevation in the area ranges between approximately 6500 and 7500 feet.

Officials will continue to monitor the Soda Fire by air and transport firefighters to the scene when conditions are safe. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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