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Helicopters over the Briceburg Fire (photo by Leonard Andrenacci)

Update: Briceburg Fire Grows to 2,235 Acres

MARIPOSA COUNTY — The Briceburg Fire has grown to 2,235 acres and is still just 10 percent contained, according to the latest updates issued Tuesday afternoon.

Earlier Tuesday morning, CAL FIRE reported the fire’s size at 800 acres, with 10 percent containment.

Fire officials in cooperation with the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol will be hosting a community meeting this evening (Oct. 8), at 7 p.m. The meeting will take place in the park at Mariposa County Fire Station #21, located at 6362 Highway 140, Midpines, CA 95345.

As of Tuesday afternoon, a total of 35 hand crews, six air tankers, three helicopters, 54 engines and 14 bulldozers continued to battle the blaze.

Areas that remain under a mandatory evacuation include “addresses on Highway 140 between Octagon Road and Buffalo Gulch, Bug Hostel, all of Buffalo Gulch Road and Briceburg Campground,” according to CAL FIRE.

High winds predicted for Wednesday have PG&E warning it could have to do a “public safety power shutoff” in the fire area as part of its new plan to prevent fallen power lines from sparking wildfires.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the utility sent out a message to customers stating it may have to shut off power to as many as 1,800 customers in Mariposa County. Those areas affected by the potential shut off, according to PG&E, are the community of Greeley Hill, the Lake Don Pedro subdivision and Granite Hills.

PG&E’s website (www.pge.com) crashed multiple times Tuesday and was down much of the day. The utility was asking customers “to try back at a later time.”

Additional information about PG&E’s potential power shutoff also will be available at tonight’s community meeting.

The National Weather Service has issued red flag warnings and fire weather watches for areas of northern, central and southern California and “CAL FIRE firefighters are staffing up and preparing for the forecasted extreme fire weather across California,” said Scott McLean, deputy chief of communications for Cal Fire.

“This will likely be the strongest offshore wind event so far this season,” McLean said.

With extreme fire danger conditions, some areas around the state are seeing electricity being turned off by their utility companies preemptively.

“CAL FIRE is not involved in the decision making of when and where the power is turned off, or when the power will be turned back on when such conditions arise,” McLean said. “The only time that CAL FIRE will request a power outage from a utility company is when there is an active wildfire around powerlines that firefighters are fighting. The power shut-off request will only be for within the fire area and this is to provide for the safety of firefighters within that area.”

McLean added that “comments, questions or concerns” about the current power outages “should be directed toward your utility company.”

Late Monday, the Red Cross opened an evacuation center and shelter at the New Life Christian Church in Bootjack but by Tuesday morning, officials at the facility said only one person had come in so far, a tourist who’d become separated from the rest of their group.

Just after 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, Katrina Poitras, disaster program manager for the American Red Cross, said the shelter “was being rolled back to being an evacuation center.”

“At noon, we’ll go back on stand-by,” Poitras added. “Anyone needing shelter should call the MMU Fire Hotline at 844-668-3473.”

CAL FIRE said the cause of the fire “remains under investigation.”

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