USA — A lightning-sparked wildfire burning for more than a week in Sequoia National Park has doubled in size since Tuesday and could grow up to six times larger by the time it’s contained, fire officials reported Thursday.
The so-called Hidden Fire, started by a Sept. 10 thunderstorm near Hidden Springs, 12 miles from Three Rivers and north of Ash Mountain, had charred 807 acres as of Thursday. Officials said they expect the slow-moving blaze to grow to at least 3,000 acres and possibly 5,000.
The fire was 30 percent contained Thursday, a fire agency spokeswoman said.
At a public meeting in Three Rivers Wednesday night, fire officials informed foothills residents that they could experience poor air quality in the coming days because of increased smoke from the fire.
The blaze has moved through dry, steep, mixed-conifer forest around 6,000 feet and is expanding on its eastern and southern flanks, creeping toward Generals Highway and Cave Creek, respectively, officials reported.
More than 370 firefighters and eight helicopters are now assigned to the fire, said Kate Kramer, spokeswoman for the Southern California-based team now in command of firefighting efforts.
Firefighters began clearing brush to set up a containment line along a 2-mile stretch of Generals Highway north of the Lodgepole area Thursday.
Park visitors should expect traffic delays in the area due to firefighter activity, said Deb Schweizer, spokeswoman for Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
No structures were threatened by the fire, but officials said closures announced earlier this week remain in effect. They include:
Crystal Cave and Crystal Cave Road from Generals Highway.
Muir Grove Trail, from the trailhead at Dorst Campground.
Colony Mill Road, off North Fork Drive in Three Rivers.