If you woke this morning and smelled smoke in the Mammoth Lakes and nearby areas, rest assured it wasn’t due to any local fire activity. According to information from CalFire and InciWeb, which monitors fire events nationally, the likely cause is airborne smoke blowing in from what’s been called the Piute Complex Fire burning in Kern County.
Made up of two smaller fires, the Clear Fire and Heald Fire, the incident is believed to have been set off at about noon on Saturday by lightning associated with the series of rainstorms that rolled through the Eastern Sierra this past weekend.
Fire crews, numbering more than 900 on both incidents, from CalFire, Kern County Fire Department and the Bureau of Land Management are building fire containment lines around both fires, which are located in steep, rough terrain with difficult access and long travel times to the fire. Multiple helicopters and air tankers assigned to the incident also helped support ground-based fire suppression operations.
Located about 12 miles south of Lake Isabella, the fire is about 15 percent contained.