As the “fire weather warning” lifted Tuesday morning, officials reported the Sherpa Fire was 70 percent contained — up from 62 percent Monday night. Fire personnel from across the state are being sent home or to one of the other three active wildfires — the Border, Reservoir, and Fish fires — burning in Southern California.
The size of the Sherpa Fire has increased just slightly to roughly 8,000 acres. Independent reporter Keith Hamm was at the Dos Pueblos High School staging area Tuesday morning. He said hotshot crews were still being delivered — hiking in or being dropped off by helicopters — to extinguish hot spots, mop them up, and maintain containment lines. While the temperatures remain above normal — peaking Monday at 103 degrees in the Refugio foothills — a cooling trend began this morning, defusing some anxiety among officials.
“This morning [commanders] were telling personnel, ‘You all know you’re going to be somewhere else in a couple days, but right now keep your head in this game,’” said Don Ferguson, spokesperson for Unified Command. There have been a few injuries among firefighters, mostly heat related. One firefighter suffered a minor laceration with a chainsaw. No one has been hospitalized.
Today, the Unified Command post is expected to downsize from a “Type 1” to a “Type 3,” meaning County Fire and local responders will make up the bulk of the remaining personnel.
According to Los Padres National Forest Service’s Jennifer Gray, though additional progress was made overnight on the northeast corner of the fire, “extreme heat and challenging terrain remain a factor within this area.” She added low humidity levels are still an issue.
The Sherpa Fire’s cause remains under investigation by the Forest Service. Cal Fire reported Tuesday that more than 4,700 firefighters are battling six active wildfires in California. In the last week, firefighters responded to more than 250 new wildfires across the state. In 2016, there have been nearly 2,100 wildfires, burning more than 32,000 acres.