Though fire crews made significant progress Wednesday night on the southeast corner of the Rey Fire, Independent writer Ray Ford said Thursday afternoon the wildland blaze — now at 31,500 acres — continues to push northeast after jumping the primary containment line at Mono Creek. Ford said the contingency line along the Pendola Jeep Trail does not extend that far north, and so the fire could proceed unimpeded toward Agua Caliente Canyon.
Ford said the recent spread is not cause for major worry at the moment, but firefighters are now concentrating their efforts in that remote region with increased retardant drops and additional Hot Shot crews flown in by helicopter. “They’re a little concerned about it,” he said. There are currently 15 helicopters assigned to the Rey Fire with air tankers ready to support ground teams when called for.
Meanwhile, fire crews continue to improve containment lines and mop up hot spots on the north flank of the blaze near Old Man Mountain, and the south flank above the Santa Ynez drainage and Gibraltar Reservoir. Dozers are being used to re-open and secure a contingency line along East Camino Cielo Ridge. Overall containment stands at 39 percent; 2,020 fire personnel are currently assigned.
Earlier today, Forest Service officials said personal drones invaded Rey Fire airspace on three separate occasions. “It is critical that the public not use drones near the fire area as they affect aerial suppression as well as operations, leaving fire crews on the ground without support,” a spokesperson said.
While Paradise Road remains closed to the public, the CHP will start granting access to people who live or work off Paradise starting at 6 p.m. tonight. All additional road closures, including East Camino Cielo as well as Painted Cave Road, are still in effect.
A low-pressure system is expected to move across the region tonight and tomorrow, bringing cooler temperatures. Westerly winds are predicted with gusts up to 15 mph, which will move smoke to the east and southeast of the fire.