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Detwiler Fire Jumps Yaqui Gulch, Races Toward Mariposa

MARIPOSA COUNTY — The fire that started in a fairly remote area near Lake McClure has now forced the evacuation of thousands of residents in its relentless march to the south and east.

More evacuations have just been ordered on Old Highway near Yaqui Gulch.

Just after noon today, the town of Mariposa was evacuated, after the Detwiler Fire grew more than 4,000 acres in just a few hours.

The last estimate on the size of the fire is 19,600 acres with just 5 percent containment.

As fire officials struggle to spread available resources where they are most needed, this fire presents them with new, deadly challenges with each passing hour.

Flames rush up hillside on Detwiler Fire – photo courtesy of Al Golub

The fire made a major push to the south this morning, jumping Highway 140, and as the mid-day winds kicked up and temperatures rose, it pushed closer to Mariposa, crossing Highway 49N near Mt. Bullion. There was even a spot fire near the Cal Fire Emergency Dispatch Center at Whitlock Road.

Any resources available have been sent into the town of Mariposa to save the historic village from being ravaged as wind-driven embers land and ignite new starts.

At about 1 p.m., CHP was notified to set up and divert northbound traffic off Highway 49 at Triangle Road, and off Highway 140 North onto Triangle Road, in order to detour around the town of Mariposa.
Highway 49 is closed on the north at Coulterville (Hwy 132).

With the very active fire behavior, dozers and retardant planes began focusing their efforts on indirect line (not right at the fire’s edge, but out a ways), as requests for additional resources continued throughout the day.

By 2 p.m., the fire had broken through retardant lines south of Highway 140 in the Guadalupe area, and Sheriff’s deputies had all they could handle notifying people to evacuate, and protecting the now-hopefully-deserted town of Mariposa.

As the fire grew, new divisions were being added to the fire organizational structure, and again, officials scrambled to cover all their bases.

Air Attack did his best not to express frustration as air resources were diverted to other fires throughout the day, including the VLAT.

By 2:30 p.m., dispatch reported that there were 13 standing orders for strike teams (5 engines per team) that had yet to be filled. Then word came in that the fire was crossing Yaqui Gulch and they needed more help. The division boss said he had nothing to send, and getting a couple engines on the houses in the path of the fire was the first priority.

At 2:50 p.m., the fire blew across Mt. Bullion Cutoff Road headed toward Agua Fria. There is little confidence at this point that it will not cross Yaqui Gulch.

At 3 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office sent out notification that Old Highway from Yaqui Gulch to Highway 49 is being evacuated, including all feeder roads and the Mormon Bar area.

At 3:06 p.m., evacuations were ordered on Highway 140 from the Mariposa to Yaqui Gulch on both sides of the road and all feeder roads.

At 3:25 p.m., an evacuation order was issued for Buckeye Road to Ben Hur, and Ben Hur to Highway 49.

To add to the danger, there are power lines down inside the fire area, including Mt. Bullion Cutoff Road.

We will update on fire conditions as more information comes in.

With Mariposa on a mandatory evacuation, the Red Cross shelter was moved to Caesar Chavez Junior High, 161 S. Plainsburg Road in Planada.

There is also a shelter in Oakhurst at the EV Free Church at the end of School Road, 50443 Road 427.

The Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds is open for large animal evacuations. Call Belinda for more information at 559-676-3703.  Click here for a map.

We will not list all the evacuations and road closures at this point. Suffice it to say, if you are in the Mariposa area, you likely should not be there.

For a map of the fire, click here. It’s grown bigger since then.

For previous evacs and closures, click the article below.

Detwiler Fire Threatens Town Of Mariposa, Shelter Relocated

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Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online