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Crews Still Working Serpa Fire, Evacuations Remain In Place

COARSEGOLD — Crews are still battling a vegetation fire burning on the east side of Highway 41 near Serpa Canyon.

As of 4:30 p.m., the fire was estimated at 60 to 70 acres and crews hope to achieve 30 percent containment this evening.

The fire was reported just before 1 p.m. this afternoon on the Veater Ranch north of Coarsegold, and quickly grew of over 40 acres. After a full wildland dispatch was called up, the Incident Commander began requesting additional resources, including a total of six air tankers, plus helicopters and a helitanker.

Southern end of Serpa Fire - photo by Gina ClugstonOne home was immediately threatened at the top of a hill, and firefighters staged around the building for structure protection.

Dozens of engines, water tenders and dozers began winding their way up the steep and narrow roads of the Veater Ranch, accessing the fire from the paved driveway near the Broken Bit, and from the propane tank farm across from Serpa Canyon.

Serpa Fire southern end - photo by Gina ClugstonCal Fire, Madera County Fire, Sierra National Forest, Caltrans and PG&E all sent resources to what was dubbed the Serpa Fire.

An Incident Command Post was established near the top of the main driveway to the Veater Ranch, just a few hundred yards from a fire that burned on the ranch on July 4.

Mattie Fhy residents load horses to evacuate As the size and potential of the incident became apparent, the Sheriff’s Office responded, along with CHP and Citizens on Patrol, and deputies began going door-to-door in the Road 420/Mudge Ranch neighborhood, Cavin Lane, and all homes on the east side of Highway 41 between Serpa Canyon and Road 420, warning everyone to pack up and get out. Some refused, but most cooperated, leaving roads and access routes clear for first responders, and relieving law enforcement of the worry of people still being inside the danger zone.

Winners Circle with fire aboveSheriff’s deputies continue to patrol the neighborhood making sure that homes are secure and no one has been left behind. They responded to at least one call of a resident needing assistance to evacuate.

By about 3 p.m., the fire had grown to about 70 acres, and had crested the ridge and started backing down into a neighborhood along Mattie Fhy Road. Residents raced to gather pets and load dozens of horses into trailers ahead of the flames, as air tankers roared overhead, dropping load after load of retardant, and helicopters ferried back and forth delivering buckets of water.

Tanker drop on Serpa Fire - photo by Gina ClugstonAll the while, Air Attack circled calmly overhead, directing what may have appeared a chaotic air show, but always is, in reality, a carefully orchestrated process.

Several law enforcement vehicles were doused with the pink slurry as they made their way through neighborhoods, notifying residents to evacuate as firefighters and bulldozers worked on the steep slope above them.

Bulldozer saves fire engine - photo by Gina ClugstonWater tenders made trip after trip, loading up with water and returning to refill engines along the fireline.

At one point, up on the mountain on the southern end of the fire, the gusting winds pushed the fire up the hill so quickly it threatened to engulf a fire engine. A dozer cutting fireline in the area came down the hill and made quick work of the flames.

Serpa Fire from Road 420 - photo by Gina ClugstonRoad 420 was closed at Highway 41 and on the east side at Road 223, and remains closed at this hour. Early on, traffic on Highway 41 was stopped at the Coarsegold Community Center, but Sheriff’s Commander Tyson Pogue decided deputies would be best utilized in ensuring the safety of the residents in the area and notifying them to evacuate, rather than manning roadblocks.

A Red Cross center was set up at the YLP Church at 43840 Patrick Avenue in Yosemite Lakes Park, and the rodeo grounds in Coarsegold was made available for large animals.

Inmate crew walk to the fireline - photo by Gina ClugstonThe Incident Commander is currently ordering resources for the overnight shift, and for tomorrow’s work, and air resources will work until they lose their light.

At 6:30 p.m., an ambulance was dispatched to the fire for reports of a firefighter needing medical attention. It appears to be heat related.

We don’t have any updates from the Sheriff’s Office on when evacuated residents may be allowed to return home, but will post as soon as we learn more. Please see the list below for evacuated roads.

Serpa Fire from Bass Lake Heights - photo by Gina ClugstonAt this point no homes have been lost, but dozens have been threatened.

This is the second fire in the past month on the Veater Ranch. A fire on July 4 burned 103 acres and required 150 firefighters to put it out.

The cause of the Serpa Fire is under investigation.

The following streets are under mandatory evacuation orders due to ‪‎Serpa Fire‬:

Holly Lane
Mattie Fhy Road
Mattie Fhy Court
Cavin Lane
Vinnard Drive
Paulsen Lane
Snyder Road
Romero Lane
Road 420
Sundance Drive
Sunset Drive
Sunset Place
Thornberry Ponds Lane
China Creek Way
Mudge Ranch Road
Mudge Ranch Lane
Barcus Circle
Barcus Court N
Barcus Court S
Thornberry Summit Rd
Falcon View Lane
Falcon View Road
Cedar Mountain Lane
Los Arboles
East side of Hwy 41 between The Broken Bit and Road 420.

American Red Cross has established an evacuation shelter at the Yosemite Lakes Park Church (43840 Patrick Ave, Coarsegold)

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