Los Angeles Times
Mariposa County fire doubles in size as flames force thousands to flee and threaten power to Yosemite
The Detwiler fire is threatening 4,500 homes after doubling in size Tuesday night.
By Veronica RochaContact Reporter
A massive wildfire in Mariposa County nearly doubled in size overnight as flames destroyed structures, threatened power to Yosemite National Park and forced 4,000 people to flee their homes.
The fast-growing Detwiler fire, which is burning west of Yosemite, exploded from 25,000 acres to 45,724 acres, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency after the fire forced thousands to evacuate and damaged power, water and communication infrastructure.
The governor’s order sends additional equipment and fire crews to Mariposa County to help fight the blaze, which is only 7% contained. The declaration also accelerates emergency aid to those affected by the fire.
As the blaze spread rapidly across thousands of acres Tuesday, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders to residents in the town of Mariposa, east of Merced.
Nearby highways and roads were closed as more than 2,200 firefighters tackled flames and faced “extreme and aggressive fire behavior,” Cal Fire said.
Embers from the blaze sparked spot fires, and entire trees were engulfed in flames, Cal Fire said.
The blaze, which started Sunday east of Lake McClure, has destroyed eight structures, damaged another and is threatening an additional 1,500.
The communities of Hunters Valley, Bear Valley, Catheys Valley, Mormon Bar, the town of Mariposa, Mount Bullion, the Yaqui Gulch/Agua Fria areas and Hornitos continue to be threatened, Cal Fire said. “The fire encroaches on culturally and historically sensitive areas,” it said.
To the south of the fire, flames threatened power lines that supply Yosemite, Cal Fire said.
Smoke from the fire could be seen from a weather satellite, according to the
National Weather Service.
Along with dry, breezy and warm conditions that are dominating Central California this week, forecasters say, firefighters must also contend with overgrown vegetation.
“It is the fuels that are extremely flammable right now due to heavy rains this winter with widespread growth and then extended heat waves this summer which has created a powder keg for fast-burning fuels,” the weather service said in a statement. “Even terrain-driven winds can become stronger depending on fire behavior and fuels.”
According the fire’s incident management team, the fire is burning in an area where there are many dead trees killed by bark beetle and the drought.
My Mother Lode
Update: Communities Remain Threatened By Detwiler Fire
B.J. Hansen, MML News Director
Update at 10:15am: Additional evacuation orders have been issued this morning for the Detwiler Fire. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office reports that residents are now ordered to leave along Dogtown Rd in Coulterville to Dogtown Rd near Bowers Cave in Greeley Hill. All homes are also evacuated on side roads between Greeley Hill Road and Texas Hill Road. All earlier evacuation orders still remain in effect.
The earlier evacuation orders and advisories, per CAL Fire, are listed below:
Evacuation Orders- South Mariposa County – are in effect for the following areas: Mount Bullion Ridge Road from HWY 49N to HWY 140 and ALL feeder roads; Old Toll Road between Corbett Creek Road and HWY 49N, including Corbett Creek Road.; Mount Gaines Road to No.9 Road including No.9 Road; HWY 140 from Hornitos Rd. to Hwy 49S and ALL feeder roads both sides. Yaqui Gulch Rd. from HWY 140 to Old HWY ALL feeder roads on both sides. Old HWY from 49S to School House Rd. and ALL feeder roads on both sides. Buckeye Rd. to Benhur Rd. both sides of the road and feeder roads. Benhur from Buckeye to Hwy 49S. Mariposa Town HWY 140 from 49N to East Whitlock Rd. and ALL feeder roads. East Whitlock Rd from HWY 140 to Mosher Rd. and All feeder roads to the West. Hornitos Rd. from HWY 140 to Mount Gaines Rd. and ALL feeder roads. Including the community of Whispering Oaks. West Whitlock from 49N to Mosher Rd. and ALL feeder roads and all areas north of the Merced River
Evacuation Warnings-North Mariposa County – are HWY 49N from Schilling Rd. to HWY 132 including all feeder roads; Main Street Coulterville;Dogtown Rd. from Greeley Hill Rd. to Texas Hill Rd. and all of Texas Hill Rd. ;Schilling Rd from HWY 49N to Texas Hill Rd.
Update at 8:30am: CAL Fire reports that yesterday crews experienced extreme and aggressive fire behavior, resulting in the new size estimate of 45,724 acres. The communities of Hunters Valley, Bear Valley, Catheys Valley, Mormon Bar, Mariposa, Mount Bullion, Yaqui Gulch/Aqua Fria areas and Hornitos continue to be threatened. There are 2,208 firefighters on scene this morning, 217 engines, 35 crews, nine airtankers, 11 helicopters, 35 dozers and 26 water tenders.
1,500 homes are still threatened, and all earlier evacuation orders remain in place. Eight structures have been destroyed and one additional structure was damaged. The fire is also threatening power lines that supply electricity to Yosemite National Park.
Heavy smoke remains an issue in the region. Click here to read an earlier story related to health concerns.
Update at 7:10am: The incident management team overseeing the Detwiler Fire reports that blaze is now 45,724 acres and seven-percent contained. We’ll pass along more information when it becomes available.
Original story posted at 6:20am: Mariposa, CA — As residents are evacuated due to the Detwiler Fire in Mariposa County, there are now five locations to go for lodging, meals and other services.
The Red Cross Evacuation Centers are open at the EV Free Church on High School Road in Oakhurst, the Sierra Presbyterian Church on Highway 41 in Oakhurst, the Mountain Christian Center on Highway 49 in Oakhurst, the Cesar Chavez Junior High on S. Plainsburg in Planada and the Groveland Community Hall on Highway 120 in Groveland.
There are an estimated 4,968 people evacuated, and 1,500 residences threatened. Around 1,400 firefighters are assigned to the incident.
The latest size estimate from CAL Fire is that the blaze was 25,000 acres and five-percent contained. At least eight structures have been destroyed. A new size estimate will be released later this morning.
Firefighters moving headquarters to Merced as thousands flee wild fire in Mariposa
By Thaddeus Miller And Rob Parsons
Firefighters battling an out-of-control wildfire threatening the city of Mariposa moved their headquarters to the Merced County Fairground in Merced on Tuesday.
Crews returning from 24-hour shifts will be staying at the fairgrounds on Martin Luther King Way in South Merced.
Some of the nearly 4,000 people fleeing homes and businesses in Mariposa are expected to come to Planada, Le Grand and Merced, city officials said in a news release.
Hundreds of firefighters from around the state are expected to camp in Merced during in shifts, authorities said.
Merced city crews closed G Street from Childs to 11th Street to make way for heavy traffic from firefighting and other vehicles heading towards the fairgrounds, authorities said.
“Merced County deputies are assisting with the evacuation of Mariposa residents,” officials said in the statement. “Merced County staff are also assisting with the evacuation of John C. Fremont Hospital in Mariposa.”
City officials in Merced initially reported the Mariposa jail also was evacuated, but later said that was not the case. City officials said Merced County was ready to assist, should that happen in the coming hours or days.
Merced residents are being asked to steer clear of Highway 140, the major route to the fire scene, unless necessary. They also are advised that there will be a large amount of vehicle and truck traffic around the fairgrounds while firefighting efforts are underway.
“We are offering any and all the assistance we can,” said Fire Chief Michael Wilkinson. “We have crews up fighting the fire and we have city staff down here helping out every way we can.”
City water crews are making sure the trucks are full. Merced’s Public Works Department organized truck routes through town for CalFire so firefighters could get up to the fire with the least disruptions to traffic and people.
“We wanted to make it easy for them to get in and out of the City, simply and safely,” said Public Works Director Ken Elwin. “They have lots of big trucks going through the city and we don’t want anyone getting into accidents.”