The Donnell Fire started Wednesday, Aug 1st near the east side of Donnell Lake at 7:49 p.m. it has destroyed 54 structures, 81 outbuildings and burned 28,302 acres or 44.2 square miles (114.5 sq km). No cause has been determined, it is 20 percent contained. (Go to Thursday, Aug 9th in timeline).
August 2, at 1 p.m.: Air and ground crews are heading to a vegetation fire that was called into the Stanislaus National Forest dispatch. The flames are reported to be burning in Tuolumne County in the area of Donnell Vista, off Highway 108 in the Summit Ranger District. Forest Service spokesperson Diana Fredlund details, “It’s a one to two acre fire in the wilderness near the Donnell Inlet. We are ordering additional resources up to take a look.” Assessments jumped to 30-40 acres in a few hours and to 75 acres by 4 p.m. The fire was reported as running along the Middle Fork Stanislaus River; “The fire consists of a main fire and two spots fires,” details Fredlund. “The spot fires are about a quarter mile up the stream from the main fire. Everything is on the north side of the river.” The fire was 350 acres and evacuation advisory for the Wagner Housing tract and Clark’s Fork and Camp Liahona in Clark Fork was issued. A helicopter used water from Lake Donnell, more resources to arrive Friday morning. Fredlund “We are waiting for the hotshots to come in as they’re the ones trained to do it.” Day one details here.
Aug 3, Day 3: 400 acre Donnell Fire burning in the Stanislaus National Forest. Fredlund notes that two hotshot crews, which each have anywhere from 18-21 firefighters, have arrived at the incident. “One hotshot crew is from the Stanislaus, and the other is the El Cariso hotshots from the Cleveland National Forest (Southern California).” 30 structures are considered threatened.
5:15 p.m. 600 acres, Mandatory evacuations have been ordered by the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office for the areas of Wagner Tract, Clark Fork Road, Camp Liahona and Sand Flat. There are 30 structures threatened and a total of 165 personnel on the scene.
Aug 4, Day 4: 600 acre to 1,500 Donnell Fire. Fredlund details, “During morning hours the fire is under an inversion and actively burning in timber and brush, with movement driven primarily by terrain. Once the inversion lifts around noon, the canyon winds increase to 25 mph and that causes the fire to drastically increase its rate of speed.” She explains, “That means Aircraft are restricted in the morning due to smoky conditions and the inversion, but also restricted later in the day due to high winds.”
Fire officials relay that the main strategy is to keep the fire north of the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River, south of trail 19E06 and east of Dome Rock. Update at 3:05pm: The Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office has modified its earlier evacuation order. The area between Clark’s Fork campgrounds and the Dardanelles is now under a mandatory evacuation order. Some large air tankers have been spotted near the fire this evening, including a DC-10.
Aug 5, Day 5: 1,750 acres to 6,000 acres and there is no containment. Multiple structures destroyed, unable to be identified by fire crews. Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office adds Forest Service Road 5N01 to the list that is under a mandatory evacuation order.
Donnell Fire is threatening a combined 225 structures and outbuildings. A mandatory evacuation order remains in place for the area stretching from the Clark Fork campground to the Dardanelles resort. An advisory evacuation notice is in place from Dardanelles to Kennedy Meadows. 65 cabins and five large campgrounds in the Brightman area were evacuated, while 88 cabins, two resorts, and several large campgrounds are under the advisory. Yesterday the fire crossed the Stanislaus River and it has been burning to the northeast. Crews are trying to keep it north of the Middle Fork of the Stanislaus River, south of Spicer, west of Bald Peak and east of Dome Rock. The fire has been burning through roughly two feet high brush, timber litter and understory, according to the forest service.
There is a hard closure of Highway 108 at Eagle Meadow.
Aug 6, Day 6: 6,000 acres to 11,000 with better mapping. Evening Meeting update: The latest size estimate is just over 11,000 acres, but the team on hand stated that they know it is much larger at this point. It may not be until late this evening, or early tomorrow, when a new size estimate is released.
It was emphasized that a “lack of resources” is the most glaring challenge.
Aug 7, Day 7: 13,200 acres, 15 structures destroyed. The Stanislaus National Forest downgraded the size estimate this morning. After earlier indicating that it is up over 13,200 acres, the new size estimate is 11,340 acres, according to Forest Service spokesperson Maria Benech.
Total personnel of 481 assigned to the incident include seven hand crews, three helicopters and 18 engines.
Aug 8, Day 8: The Donnell Fire’s growth was minimal yesterday in the Stanislaus National Forest, but the acreage increased to 13,814 due to better mapping. 1,120 structures are considered threatened and at least 26 have been destroyed. Ending acreage 17,941 and 4-5% contained.
The Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors approved local emergency declaration related to the impacts of wildfires. Details here.
Aug 9, Day 9: More Damage Assessment Completed On 21,097 Acre Donnell Fire, 6% containment. 602 firefighters assigned to the incident. 55 structures have been destroyed along with 81 smaller outbuildings. 220 structures are considered threatened. Updates here.Incident Command is reporting a drop of 1,353 acres in the size of the Donnell Fire in the Stanislaus National Forest making the total acreage 19,744 acres instead of the previous 21,097 reported this morning.
Aug 10, Day 10: 23,824 and there is 5-percent containment the US Forest Service issued an order closing the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness and Spicer Lake. Updates are here.
Aug 11, Day 11: 26,814 and there is 14 to 20 percent containment the US Forest Service issued an order closing the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness and Spicer Lake. Incident Command reported moderate fire activity with the fire continuing its path towards Spicer Reservoir to the north, northeast towards Boulder Creek, and east along Highway 108. The flames are skirting above the highway, but have reached within a mile of Kennedy Meadows as earlier reported. Fire crews are also dealing with hazardous trees along the Highway 108 corridor and around structures that have been impacted by the blaze. Updates are here.
Aug 12, Day 12: 27,769 acres 20 percent containment. With regards to the region around the Dardanelle Resort, fire officials detail that the flames destroyed 14 of 16 cabins in the Wagner Tract, 36 of 57 cabins in the Brightman Tract, 2 of 2 cabins in the Buena Vista Tract, and 1 of 10 cabins in the Bone Springs Tract. Areas with no loss of structures include: Baker Station or within Riverside, Cedar Grove, Deadman, Baker, East Douglas, West Douglas, and Twin Buttes Tracts.
Aug 13, Day 13: 23,302 and there is 20 percent containment. Updates are here. There will be another community meeting where residents can hear the latest on the fire response, and ask questions. It will run from 5-6:30pm at the Word of Life Church in Mi Wuk Village. It is located at 24630 Highway 108.