The Airport Incident Fire Updates

Incident update: 0836

AIF ThumbSo Here is what I have so far. I have spent all day on Live Stream through Eastern Sierra NOW on Facebook and Instagram. Between all that and evacuating my mom, I am just now getting to the website! My apologies. If you are not already following us on those social media platforms please do. I will be live streaming about the fire tonight and tomorrow as the case may need.

So the “Airport Incident Fire” as it’s dubbed was a brush fire that started around noon just South East of the Bishop Airport. The White Mountain Research Center had been evacuated at that point. No damage was reported.

No known cause has been found yet. I was told by a Police officer that the fire started around Buckley ponds and followed the river south. By around 3pm the fire had reached Collins Road.

Collins, Warm Springs and E Line St (at the airport) were blocked off to traffic.

I have not received a definite number of trucks, personnel and air attack vehicles in play. But I for sure saw 2 planes and a helicopter. I also was informed many air attack tankers flew in from Sacramento.

Right about dusk, the East side of the Big Pine Native American Reservation was ordered to evacuate. Then about 30 minutes later the entire East side of the highway residents were ordered to evacuate as well. The fire was still many miles from Cal Tech (The Ears) at that point.

Kristina Blum Justice of the Bishop Volunteer Fire Department informed me that crews had been sent to protect those structures.

Now at 10:30 pm. another Evacuation notice was sent to Big Pine phones asking all East side of the Highway residents to evacuate again. Not sure if it’s a new warning, or a reminder of the last one. No new info was given.

Cal Fire is asking evacuees to head to the Bishop Senior Center behind the city park. 682 Spruce Street. There they can find you accommodations for the night. I also heard animals are being accepted at the Tri-County fairgrounds. The Barlow Lane Gym in Bishop is also set up to take in Those in need.

As for the flames. I just live streamed on Facebook and they were about a mile North of Cal Tech. They were taller than they had been all night, and the wind had kicked back up. The weather service was calling for the winds to die down

Cal Tech Antennas1 600x
Photo Cred: Richard Bellomy 2022

around 10. So far that hasn’t been the case….

As of last report from Blum Justice, the fire had burned over 2,150 acres.

Blum Justice wanted to pass this on to all of you “The community can rest assured that we will be doing absolutely everything in our power to get this thing under control and keep the communities we love and serve, safe.”

I want to thank everyone that reached out to me today with info to pass on to the public. Keep it up. Everything helps.

I will stay on this all night and tomorrow. Whatever I hear, I will live stream and post to this story as an update at the bottom with the time I post it.

4AM: No update has been made on the incident report website since 9pm yesterday. I drove out 168 and live streamed from the CALTECH road…not good. The fire has passed the Radio Observatory. No word on its condition. I want to hope it was saved since the fire is following the fuel along the river and there are no trees or thick brush along the observatory.  I hope. No official word yet.

The fire has passed the Observatory and following the river it is about 1 mile from 168. I did not see any crews fighting the fire. No air attack either. My guess is since the wind died down a bit, that they are just letting it burn since it is a relatively safe distance from any structures. Other than poor Zurich. Let’s hope it makes it through this.

I was told by Blum-Justice, that the air attack would resume at 7 am. So it is a race now.  What comes first, 7 am or the bridge crossing 168….

I’ll check back in at that time.

Here is a link to my live stream at 3 am.  Warning, I mistook the fire for being closer, at the beginning of the video. I notice later as I drive around, it is in fact on the river, NOT THE CANAL. A good safe distance from town. I just woke up and it is huge! Was a bit excited

7:00 AM, 2/17

Big Pine Airport Fire
Photo Cred: Richard Bellomy 2022

The following information was gathered from a post made by the Inyo County Sheriff at roughly 7:00 AM on Thursday, February 17th.

As of this morning, the Airport Fire has burned an estimated 2,800 acres, and is 0% contained. There have been no civilian or firefighter injuries or fatalities, and no structures have been destroyed or damaged, though the flames have threatened 150.

From the post: “The fire continued to remain active overnight, burning to the south. Firefighters are actively engaged in perimeter control and structure defense. Winds have remained steady and will continue at 10-15 mph out of the northwest.”

Currently, there have been evacuation orders for Big Pine (east of Hwy 395), White Mountain Research Center, and the Owens Valley (CalTech) Radio Observatory. No evacuation warnings or new evacuation orders have been issued. Warm Springs Road (east of Hwy 395) and Hwy 168 (east of 395) have been closed. The fire has not jumped the 168 as of yet.

Assigned resources on the fire include 66 engines, 7 water tenders, 1 helicopter, 16 hand crews, 7 dozers, 6 fixed wing tankers, 1 air attack, and 36 overhead, with a total personnel of 432.

PXL 20220217 151708131
Photo Provided by CHP

While the evacuation order and the firefighters are still in play, the flames and smoke have subsided. The river will look different now, but Big Pine won’t. Thank you Firefighters and first responders!


We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the brave individuals from CALFIRE, Inyo National Forest, Bishop Fire, Big Pine Fire, Independence Fire, LADWP, BLM CDD, Mono County Fire, Mammoth Lakes Fire, Lone Pine Fire, CHP, and CalTrans who have been putting their lives on the line to contain the blaze.

We appreciate you!

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Jesse Steele

TIP JAR Jesse is a media content creator and film maker from the Eastern Sierra.
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Deborah A Murphy
Deborah A Murphy
1 year ago

Really appreciate your update on the Airport Fire.

Richard Bellomy
Richard Bellomy
1 year ago

Great overview of the days events Jesse. A pleasure to meet you and thank so much for the inclusion!

Cindy LeFever
Cindy LeFever
1 year ago

Good job Jesse. On ALL that you do. Sometimes you have much coverage I cannot keep up.?

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