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Aspen Fire: Smoke Likely to Decrease, 2 Campgrounds Reopen

Smoke from firing operations by crews. | Photo: Courtesy Keli Stafford/Inciweb

The Aspen Fire in Sierra National Forest continues to burn, but its progress has severely slowed, only burning an additional 500 acres for a total of 21,930. Containment remains at 75 percent, but the majority of the active fire line is slowly creeping in high altitude of Kaiser Wilderness. The other active edge to the south is burning toward the San Joaquin River where crews are are employing a strategy to make sure it doesn't jump its steep drainage. The wildfire's smoke has caused numerous air alerts in the immediate area, including Huntington Lake, as well as into the Eastern Sierra's Mammoth Lakes region, but "beginning today, the smoke impacts are going to be really diminished," noted Fire Information Officer Gary Wuchner.

The lightning-caused blaze began Monday, July 22 in Sierra National Forest near Mammoth Pool Reservoir, about seven miles north of Big Creek, a small Fresno County community. At its height, about 2,000 people were working to suppress the fire; the team now stands below 1,500 personnel. $25 million has been spent.

Stump Springs Road continues to be closed. Two of the 16 closed campgrounds have reopened: Badger Flats and Midge.

All trails, however, remain closed in Kaiser Wilderness where several miles of fire burn in and around its western edges. Wuchner sais crews are using wilderness ethics, known as minimal impact suppression tactics (MIST). "We're not going to let it move, but we're not going to tear up the wilderness," he said, noting that the fire is slowly moving along the high country area's gravel and granite.

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