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How Dry is It? Fire in Sequoia National Forest Burning Around Patchy Snow

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The Soda Fire burning in Sequoia National Forest at 1:23 p.m. today. | Webcam Photo: Courtesy U.S. Forest Service
The Soda Fire burning in Sequoia National Forest at 1:23 p.m. today. | Webcam Photo: Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

If there's anyone with the pulse on forest fires in California, it's Stanton Florea. He's the U.S. Forest Service's fire information officer for the state and today he's been keeping tabs on one in Sequoia National Forest. He's not yet concerned about this small and slow-moving blaze -- it may actually have positive environmental effects, he said -- but what's capturing his attention is the white stuff.

Yes, as in snow. This fire is burning through an area with patchy snow. "That's not normal," he said. "There's not much more that speaks to these dry conditions."

Like much of Southern California this week, the southern Sierra Nevada has been under a Red Flag warning, when fire danger is high due to dry conditions, low humidity, and winds. Add to that this year's dismal snow levels, and it's a recipe for, well, this.

The so-called Soda Fire was first observed this morning on a webcam overlooking the Golden Trout Wilderness. Firefighters later located the 10-acre fire near Clicks Creek, about 10 miles northwest of Camp Nelson, a gateway village along Highway 190 in Giant Sequoia National Monument. It may send smoke into local wilderness valleys and down the Little Kern River drainage through Wednesday morning.

A cause has not been determined and no plan to manage the small blaze has been announced. But that may not matter in the end. "The good thing is that it's cold at night," noted Florea. "There's not a likelihood a fire like that is going to spread."

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