Inversion layer holds Donnell fire growth. Camp Jack Hazard ‘surviving.’

Donnell Fire Continues On

The Donnell Fire reached 13,200 acres according to the U.S. Forest Service Monday Aug 6, 2018. With lack of resources and erratic weather its been a challenge according to firefighters on the line.
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The Donnell Fire reached 13,200 acres according to the U.S. Forest Service Monday Aug 6, 2018. With lack of resources and erratic weather its been a challenge according to firefighters on the line.

Though the Donnell fire containment remained at just 2 percent Tuesday, the Tuolumne County blaze has not spread since Monday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Monday night, the Forest Service said the wildfire had “no substantial acreage growth due to the inversion layer, which kept the winds much lower than previous days.” In an update Tuesday, it reported that the calm conditions most of the day let crews focus on protecting structures, clearing vegetation and extinguishing hot spots. But poor visibility hampered air attack, limiting operations to helicopter drops in the late afternoon and early evening.

Tuesday, firefighters also built bulldozer lines on the south side of the blaze.

The latest number on acreage is 11,344. Earlier reports put it at more than 13,000. The change is due to more accurate and current information, the Forest Service said.

Burning primarily along the north bank of the middle fork of the Stanislaus River, the Donnell fire is in steep and inaccessible terrain with heavy standing dead and down timber.

The other large fires in the region and state have made firefighters and equipment extremely scarce, the Forest Service’s assessment says. Total personnel working the Donnell as of Tuesday afternoon was 481, including five hand crews, three helicopters and 18 engines.

The fire started the night of Aug. 1, and containment isn’t expected until Sept. 1.

Jason Poisson, executive director of Camp Jack Hazard on Highway 108 near Dardanelle, posted a video by The Bee’s Marty Bicek on the CJH Facebook page Monday night. “It shows camp surviving the fire,” Poisson wrote.

In a post late Monday afternoon, he wrote, “A friend of CJH was up on the mountain and at the site. He said that it is looking good. We lost one of the tent cabins. The Stanislaus Hot Shots are on site. They have been back burning around the perimeter of the entire site.”

Camp Jack Hazard is less than a mile and a half east of Dardanelle Resort, a longtime popular vacation spot that was largely destroyed by the Donnell between Sunday and Monday.

The camp dates to the early 1920s, when Modesto residents Jack and Buena Hazard started driving youths to the area for spartan camping. It soon came under the YMCA of Stanislaus County, which ran it until the Y chapter folded in 2009 amid financial trouble.

The camp has been run since 2011 by the Jack and Buena Foundation, based in Modesto, and is rented to users around Northern California.

About five miles east of Camp Jack Hazard is Kennedy Meadows Resort & Pack Station on Highway 108, which reported Tuesday morning that personnel and livestock are uninjured and safe. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has made good fire lines around the resort and established multiple water sources, according to a post on the resort’s Facebook page.

“We have an evacuation plan in place for the livestock and personnel,” it reads, but “... The fire behavior yesterday was much calmer and today’s weather seems to be the same.”

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The Donnell Fire was pushed by winds and rough terrain as it ran east along Highway 108 in Tuolumne County on Sunday Aug. 5, 2018.

A view of the Donnell Fire in Tuolumne County of Highway 108 near the Donnell Vista.

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