BASS LAKE – A fire near Bass Lake this afternoon closed Road 274 and provided quite the air show for people on the lake or relaxing by the shoreline.
At about 4:20 p.m., a vegetation fire was reported burning near Fawn Point, just east of the Pines Resort. The first responders on scene reported a rapid rate of spread and a full wildland dispatch, complete with air support, was immediately called up.
Road 274 was closed down at Fawn Point Lane on the west and Marina View on the east, as engines, water tenders, dozers and fire vehicles lined both sides of the road.
The Sheriff’s Office manned the roadblocks, and sent deputies to the Fawn Point neighborhood to issue pre-evacuation notices, which turned into the real thing soon enough.
Fire officials asked PG&E to cut power to the lines running through the area, and about 570 customers were affected. PG&E provided power through other lines, however, and had the lights back on within a few hours.
Cal Fire and the Forest Service shared joint command of the incident until it was turned over to the Bass Lake Ranger District later in the evening, and many Cal Fire resources were released.
Dozers climbed up the steep terrain cutting fireline, as helicopters dipped water out of Bass Lake and air tankers dropped retardant along the leading edge of the fire. Some of the slurry drifted down into the roadway, as was evidenced by the pink coating on engines and trucks, along with a few of the first responders.
Sheriff’s patrols cleared interested boaters out of the area near the dam to allow safe and clear access to the helicopters taking on water from the lake.
An Erickson Air Crane joined in the fight from the air, as Strike Teams rolled in and staged at Fawn Point Lane just west of the incident.
Firefighters from the National Park Service also headed for the firelines, plus crews from the Mt. Bullion California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) Conservation Camp, who provide invaluable support under the direction of Cal Fire.
Just as one Mt. Bullion crew started making their way up the left flank of the fire, a burning tree came crashing down, narrowly missing several of the firefighters. It was the second tree in about 20 minutes to come down in that same area; an instant reminder of just how dangerous this job is.
Firefighters had a hose lay around the entire perimeter of the fire by shortly after 6 p.m., and had it contained about an hour later.
Undersheriff Mike Salvador, on his way to a school board meeting and looking a little out of place in a shirt and tie, was on the scene, anticipating any further evacuation notices and keeping folks updated by sending posts to the sheriff’s Facebook page.
Residents were allowed to return to their homes in the Fawn Point subdivision, but no other traffic was allowed into the area.
Road 274 will remain closed throughout the night as fire equipment will still be lining both sides of the road and crews continue to work, strengthening the lines and doing mop-up.
Reports are that the road department will be out at 8 a.m. to escort residents through. As of now, it is a hard closure, with no one being allowed to enter.
The final estimate on the size of the Pines Fire is 10 acres. It is not unusual for the acreage of a fire to be adjusted quite a bit from the initial reports, after there are boots on the ground and the smoke clears.
The US Forest Service, Cal Fire, Madera County Fire, the National Park Service, CHP, Sheriff’s deputies and PG&E all responded to the incident.
Once again, incident commanders threw everything they had at a fire with dangerous potential, and got it knocked down in a hurry.