MARIPOSA COUNTY– A 30-acre brush fire that started along Highway 140 Sunday afternoon has now charred more than 4,400 acres and is only ten percent contained, according to the latest report from CAL FIRE, issued Wednesday afternoon.
From all fronts, nearly 1000 fire personnel continue the firefight — day and night.
Steven Ward, a CAL FIRE spokesman, explained how backfire operations continued on the Briceburg Fire Tuesday night in anticipation of today’s forecasted wind event.
Ward said backfires were used in Division Oscar on the Sweetwater Ridge to Highway 140 on the east fire front as well as Feliciona Mountain Road to the Buffalo Glutch drainage on the west front.
Dozers and hand lines are being used to create a box around the fire but inversion layers over the drainage and erratic wind behavior are making fire suppression difficult.
Firefighters say some “blowout” conditions exist when wind is introduced to the inversion layer, causing the fire to make runs to the ridge tops.
Hose lay operations have been hindered due to the steep terrain with the engines only being able to pump 300 to 350 feet up the steep slopes.
In an extreme effort, some firefighters are hiking to the fire with 5-gallon water pack pumps on their backs to extinguish potential hot spots.
With vegetation stripped from the fast moving fire, additional hazards for firefighters exists as rocks cascade onto Highway 140 — which will have a major impact when winter rains create mudslides and road blockage in the coming months.
Mandatory Evacuations: Areas that are currently under a mandatory evacuation include: Addresses on Hwy. 140 between Octagon Rd. and Colorado Rd., Bug Hostel, all of Buffalo Gulch Rd. and Briceburg Campground.
Evacuation Advisory: This is NOT an Evacuation Order. This is an advisement only of a potential evacuation order should conditions change.
Colorado Rd. from Hwy 140 to Davis Rd.
All of Davis Rd.
Hwy 140 from Colorado Rd. to Midpines Market.
Ponderosa Way including all side roads: Deer Park, Leichtlin Ln., Feliciana Mountain Rd., Rancheria Creek Rd., and Rumley Mine Rd.
Small Animal Shelter:
SPCA of Mariposa County: 5599 CA-49, Mariposa, CA 95338 209-966-5275
Large Animal Shelter:
Contact Mariposa Animal Control 209-966-3615
As reported yesterday, Katrina Poitras, disaster program manager for the American Red Cross, said the shelter “was being rolled back to being an evacuation center.”
“At noon on [Tuesday], we’ll go back on stand-by,” Poitras added, “anyone needing shelter should call the MMU Fire Hotline at 844-668-3473.”
Cooperating agencies: Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office; California Highway Patrol; CALTRANS; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; U.S. Forest Service; Bureau of Land Management; American Red Cross; and additional agencies throughout the state.
CAL FIRE said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.