MARIPOSA COUNTY — The Detwiler Fire did not “lay down” overnight and give firefighters the chance to make substantial progress.
Instead it blew up to over 45,000 acres with only 7 percent containment, so the day shift had their work cut out for them.
Shortly after 8 a.m., the fire made a hard push toward Coulterville and Greeley Hill on the east side of the Merced River, prompting the evacuation of both communities.
At 10 a.m., requests were made for an immediate strike team at Old Highway and Guadalupe Fire Road to protect structures. Officials estimated less than two hours until the homes were impacted, and needed those engines expedited.
Engines generally move in to protect structures from the advancing flames and blowing embers, but with so many homes spread across the 71 square miles the fire has already charred, and those homes yet outside the perimeter including the entire town of Mariposa, there simply are not enough engines to cover every home.
At 10:50 a.m., reports came in of a home on Live Oak Road, just west of Yaqui Gulch, fully involved in flames. Crews worked to protect adjacent homes.
Firing operations have been ongoing in the Guadalupe area today, as crew work to burn out fuels inside the fireline that have not already been consumed and might spark on their own. It’s best to burn them out under controlled conditions to ensure that portion of the fire is no longer a danger.
Rising temperatures and gusting winds are expected to create intense fire activity as the day progresses.
The fire continues to creep and torch down the hill toward Mariposa, as officials repeat their requests for more resources, especially fixed wing aircraft including the VLAT. At this point, we have no reports of any structures in the town being lost.
“At this point the fire is outpacing our ability to keep up with it, says Cal Fire Public Information Officer Koby Johns.
Johns says he recognizes the difficulty involved when people are evacuated and asked to leave their homes, and says officials don’t make that decision lightly. But, he says, when people stay behind, it makes it more dangerous and more difficult for firefighters to do their job.
“We will protect life, property and the environment,” Johns told ABC30 in an interview this morning. “When people heed those warnings, that’s one less thing that we have to focus our efforts on.”
With the governor declaring a State and Emergency yesterday, more funding will be freed up for additional resources, and even the National Guard if requested.
Also, with the almost total containment on the nearly 50,000-acre Garza Fire burning in Kings County, one can hope that additional resources will be available to respond to the Detwiler Fire.
We will update in a few hours as more information comes in.
For more information on evacuations and closure, see previous posts on this page: https://sierranewsonline.com/category/headlines/fires/