Creek Fire burns 756 acres.
Blackened hillsides in the Tulare County foothills are not an unusual sight this time of year, but any wildland fire is cause for concern. The blaze that ignited Saturday, August 31, 3.5 miles up Dry Creek Drive from State Highway 216 could have been a tragedy had it not been for the rapid response of Cal Fire.
Officially named the Creek Fire, the blaze was 85 percent contained by Monday morning (Sept. 2). Cal Fire units remained at the scene for 48 hours completing containment and mopping up hot spots. No structures were involved although miles of fenceposts and some prime pastureland were consumed.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. It is believed to be human-cause of an accidental nature. At the height of the firefighting, there were 16 engine companies, two water tenders, two bulldozers, and 12 overhead personnel — crew for water-dropping helicopters, air tankers that dropped retardant, and spotter aircraft that coordinated the drops. A total of 328 personnel worked the incident.
John and Robbin Dofflemyer, who own and operate a cattle ranch in the Dry Creek area adjacent to a neighbor’s property where the fire started, were extremely grateful for the quick and professional response of Cal Fire. John Dofflemyer said the pasturage will come back but noted there were a number of blue oaks that were lost.
John Dofflemyer, an award-winning cowboy poet, offered these thoughts in the aftermath of the Creek Fire.
It’s black early yet,
few lanterns glowing
across the quiet canyon,
drought-killed Blue Oaks:
in the rock-hard ground.
The wind will turn
the burnt to gray
until the rains
bring a fresh green
we can change.
Poetry and photo used with permission of Dry Crik Press
Creek Fire burns