All road and trail closures prompted by the George Fire in Giant Sequoia National Monument will open today by noon, U.S. Forest officials have announced. The wildfire, which was lit within an estimated 40 feet of the 1992-named George Bush tree, a giant sequoia in the Freeman Creek Grove, began June 1 and is suspected to be human caused.
Key openings include Lloyd Meadow Road north of the Lower Peppermint Campground, Jerkey Meadow Trailhead (gives access to Golden Trout Wilderness), Freeman Creek Trail, and Forks of the Kern trailhead. The latter gives access to the upper portion of the Kern River, which unfortunately, may now be too dry for rafting down from this point (waterfalls in the area are said to be drying up already, too).
Forest Spokesperson Denise Alonzo said an investigation is ongoing into the cause of the fire. Anyone with tips should call their hotline at 559-294-4894. No giant sequoia trees were harmed in the conflagration that has scorched 1,700 acres and is currently burning in a hard-to-reach high elevation area.
"We had a really dry year as far as rainfall," said Alonzo, warning that visitors should be very careful with campfires and other uses of fire in the forest. "[The George Fire] burned a lot hotter and a lot faster than any of us expected for early June." She said fire restrictions will likely be established later this summer.