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20-Acre Fire Closes John West Road

OAKHURST – A fire burning along John West Road this afternoon caused the road to be closed for about six hours as over 200 fire personnel, along with their engines, crew buggies, water tenders and dozer transport trailers blocked both lanes.

The fire was reported at 1:34 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 11, burning in grass, brush and trees on the east side of John West Road at Westview Drive.

The smoke was visible from all over the Oakhurst area.

Retardant Drop - photo by Gina ClugstonAfter arriving on scene and assessing the situation, the Incident Commander called for more resources to be dispatched. With the tinder-dry fuels and the many homes in the area, no one was taking any chances on this one getting away.

The air attack was substantial, with four fixed-wing and three helicopters dropping water and retardant.

Crews arrive at John West Fire 8-11-13

Other resources included four water tenders along with 20+ engines, with crews from Cal Fire, Madera County Fire Department Stations, Sierra National Forest engines and Hot Shot Crews, and four ground crews from Pine Grove and Baseline who were in the area covering for other crews.

Residents gathered all along the road, with fingers crossed, to watch the firefighters and the air show, and capture photos and video of the activity.

Smoke From the John West Fire - photo by Gina ClugstonThe fire appeared to have started next to the road, but the cause and point of ignition are still under investigation. The flames wasted no time running up the hill in the wooded area between John West Road and Road 426.

At about 2:15 p.m., fire officials requested that the road be closed, and CHP responded to implement traffic control along with the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, who put out Reverse 911 calls to residents in the area to inform them of the situation.

With the fire burning parallel to Road 426, a section of that road between John West and Dale Lane was also closed, to ensure unimpeded access to firefighters should they need to stage in that area.

Meanwhile, traffic was becoming snarled at John West and 426 as residents and the simply curious congregated at the intersection. Those who live on the road was understandably concerned about their homes, and wanting to know when the road would be reopened.

John West across from Westview DrThe fire was contained at 20 acres at about 6:30 p.m. with no structures lost. All equipment and fire engines were moved to one side of the road to allow for one-lane access on John West, and the road was reopened at about 8 p.m.

About 30 firefighters will remain on the “West” fire throughout the night to do mop up, shore up firelines and watch for hot spots, with more scheduled for another shift tomorrow.

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