The recent deluge of rain, accompanied by cooler temperatures, along with intensive work by firefighters, has all contributed to halting the growth of the Sheep Fire, which has burned 8,962 acres (5,837 in Sequoia National Forest, 3,125 in Kings Canyon National Park) during the past two and one-half months.
The Sheep Fire was started on July 16 by lightning in a remote area of Kings Canyon National Park in the southern cliffs above Cedar Grove. Fire growth was predominately to the west and was ultimately contained to reduce smoke impacts. Fire spread to the east was limited by previous prescribed and wildland fires, the south flank of the fire slowed significantly due to scarce fuels and by burnout operations completed by firefighters, and firefighters contained the fire’s northern growth along the Hwy 180 and the Kings River.
Historically fires ignited in the summer months by lightning storms burn throughout the late summer and fall, but these fires are expected to slowly smolder with the cooler and shorter days and eventually be extinguished by further rain and/or snow. The Sheep Fire will ultimately limit the size and severity of subsequent fires by reducing the amount of dead, woody debris on the forest floor. It will open the canopy allowing sunlight through and encourage the sprouting and re-growth of plants, shrubs and trees. –NPS