'Motor Fire' Hitting on all Cylinders

There could not be a less hospitable spot for a major wildfire than the Merced River Canyon near Yosemite National Park. In July and August of 2008 the Telegraph Fire burned over 50,000 acres and claimed dozens of homes in and around Mariposa just down canyon from where the Motor Fire is raging.
The Motor Fire has burned 3,000 acres in two days and firefighters are still in the early stages of formulating a plan of attack. Initial reports had the fire burning on both sides of Highway 140 and the Merced River which would give the fire two distinct heads and directions. Maps are showing the fire burning mostly on the north side of the river and highway. The Telegraph Fire burned on both sides of the canyon as it raced upstream towards Yosemite which complicated suppression activity. Firefighters could not use the massive Merced River as an anchor.

Motor Fire and Proximity to Yosemite Nat Park

The GeoMac image above highlights the perimeters of recent fire activity including the Telegraph to the west and the Grouse and Big Meadow fires to the east. The Big Meadow and Grouse burns will act as a pair of defensive tackles blunting (somewhat) the eastern progression of the Motor Fire. There is no recent fire history north of the Motor so a run to Highway 120 is entirely possible.

A look at the area of responsibility shows this will be a Forest Service show with Cal Fire responsible for only a couple of strips of land and property along the river and highway. Cal Fire was responsible for suppressing the Telegraph Fire and at one point had 4,500 firefighters, 30 or more fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, 61 fire crews and 101 fire engines on scene. It will be interesting to see how many resources the Forest Service puts in use.

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Mike Morales

Retired Cal Fire/CDF Fire Captain
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  • Comments
    bigsurkate
    Just Released – Yarnell Hill Serious Accident Investigation Report
    Thanks for pulling this all together in one place. I have seen this compared to the Esperanza Fire where communication was a problem, also. Such a sad loss for the fire fighting community.
    2013-09-29 20:35:00
    FireBlogger
    Rim Fire Crosses The 100k Acre Mark
    This fire is a freak. It's devastating the forest in some spots. I saw one image of a couple hundred acre patch with nothing left, not even stumps! This is not healthy burning.
    2013-08-24 06:42:00
    Ex local firefighter
    Rim Fire Crosses The 100k Acre Mark
    When all is said and done, there are groups that go up Cherry Oil Road and put in on the Clavey River. They stop in the area of the fires point of origin for lunch. Rafting operations are probably the only ones that can access this area and time will tell if the environmentalists have…
    2013-08-23 18:50:00
    FireBlogger
    Sierra's Aspen Fire Pushes Into The Kaiser Wilderness
    I believe you are referring to the Rim Fire 40 miles north of the Aspen burn. It's a monster. I really thought the Aspen Fire had the same potential. Thank goodness it did not burn like the Rim.
    2013-08-23 06:20:00
    Jenefir Robert
    Sierra's Aspen Fire Pushes Into The Kaiser Wilderness
    Such a massive natural disaster. When the things would be under control?
    2013-08-23 06:16:00

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