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Detwiler Fire Highway 49 in Bear Valley - photo Cal Fire

Detwiler Fire Pushes North, Mariposa Still In Danger

MARIPOSA COUNTY — The Detwiler Fire continues to threaten the town of Mariposa, and is advancing on Coulterville as it grows past the nearly 46,000-acre estimate given this morning by Cal Fire.

Though conditions change by the minute, we try to bring you a picture of how the day is unfolding on the firelines.

Cal Fire officials say that with the State of Emergency declared yesterday by the governor, more resources will be on their way, including National Guard air support.

Resources from local, state and federal agencies continue to arrive at the Incident Command Post at the Merced Fairgrounds.

In addition to protecting the town of Mariposa, major firefighting efforts have been focused on the north and south ends of the fire as winds push up the steep terrain toward Coulterville and Dogtown, and crews faced slop-over and spotfires threatening structures in the Guadalope area west of Mariposa.

The day started out with the fire making a hard push toward Coulterville and Greeley Hill on the east side of the Merced River, prompting the evacuation of both communities. Firefighters on the ground focused on structure protection in those areas, while air resources worked to take the heat out of the leading edge of the fire.

At 1:15 p.m., Evacuation Advisories were issued for the following areas:

  • Highway 49N from Oakridge to the County Line
  • All roads north of Greeley Hill Rd to the Mariposa County Line
  • Dexter Road
  • Cuneo Road
  • Wagner Ridge
  • Smith Station Road to Hwy 120 and all side roads
  • Buck Meadows Road North of Greeley Hill Road to Hwy 120
  • Old Yosemite Road
  • Bull Creek Road

At 1:35 p.m., the fire jumped Schilling Road and was threatening Dogtown. More resources were needed to be able to hold those lines, but with none available, they needed to make “a bigger plan.”

Just after 3 p.m., air tankers lined up one after another to “paint” the town of Mariposa.

By 3:30 p.m., a retardant line was complete around the area south of Catheys Valley in Division Q, as firefighters continued their efforts to protect structures near Yaqui Gulch and and Guadalupe.

By mid-afternoon, fire activity near Mariposa had begun picking up, and more tankers, including another VLAT, were requested.

At about 4:20, the Branch 4 chief asked that tankers drop on Buckhorn Ridge to cool it down so he could get dozers in there to cut line.

“We need to cool this down,” he said. “These guys can’t work in these conditions.”

PG&E is working to restore power to thousands left in the dark at night, and in the heat during the day. Hundreds of power poles have been damaged, and the main line into Yosemite National Park is in the line of fire.

Just as a side-note, sometimes fighting fire isn’t about water, it’s about getting there. Last night, Caltrans sent equipment in to clear burnt and fallen trees from Highway 140 and ensure the safety of firefighters along that important access route.

More than 2,000 people call Mariposa home, and most of them have complied with evacuation orders and packed up to say with friends or family. However, those with nowhere to go have now moved into one of these Red Cross Evacuation Shelters:

So far, Cal Fire has not reported any homes or structures burned within the town of Mariposa, but they can’t say homes have not been lost in the outlying areas.

As of this morning, eight structures had been reported lost, and one damaged. Thousands more are threatened.

We will update with new numbers after the evening briefing.

For the most recent maps available for the Detwiler Fire, click here.

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