MARIPOSA COUNTY– A brush fire that started along Highway 140 Sunday afternoon has now burned more than 500 acres and is only 5 percent contained, according to the latest report from Cal Fire.
The so-called Briceburg Fire doubled in size during the day on Monday, burning within a perimeter roughly between Bear Creek and the Merced River.
The fire was moving southeast towards Ponderosa Road and Buffalo Gulch, with steep, isolated terrain reportedly making it difficult for firefighters to access the blaze.
Winds at the scene picked up Monday afternoon and relative humidity was about 30 percent.
At 7 p.m. Monday night, Cal Fire said the blaze had already burned 550 acres, with 5 percent containment.
Late Monday afternoon, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office announced a mandatory evacuation order has been issued for those living along “Highway 140 from the octagon to Buffalo Gulch.”
It was not immediately clear how many people were effected by the evacuation order.
County officials also announced a Red Cross evacuation center has been opened at the New Life Christian Church in Bootjack.
More than 900 firefighters from across the state attacked the fire Monday, which was burning near the area where the Ferguson Fire scorched a total of 96,000 acres in 2018. On Monday, bulldozer crews were reworking one of the southwest fire lines from the Ferguson Fire.
The Briceburg Fire first flared up Sunday off Highway 140 and Briceburg Bridge Road north of Midpines, prompting the closure of Highway 140 north of Mariposa, including the stretch of roadway leading to Yosemite National Park.
Park employees were forced to take alternate routes into the park, with Yosemite officials issuing the following directive to park employees Sunday night:
“Expect Highway 140 to remain closed overnight between El Portal (Savages) and Midpines (Yosemite Bug). Weather and Safety Leave (WSL) is authorized appropriate circumstances and with supervisory approval. Employees not eligible for WSL may telework, use alternate work locations, take annual leave, and/or alter work schedule and duties with their supervisory permission.”
An initial update issued Sunday evening stated the fire had burned nearly 50 acres and was about 5 percent contained. But conditions clearly changed over night and by daybreak on Monday morning, the fire had increased dramatically in size.
This story was updated at 7 p.m. Monday.
*Further updates will be posted as they become available.