O’NEALS – More than two dozen engines, two helicopters and two air tankers, plus water tenders and ground crews, responded to reports of a vegetation fire south of O’Neals on Sunday, June 21, about 12:20 p.m.
The Red Fire is burning in the vicinity of Road 211 between Red Tail Road and Sierra Oaks Lane.
Within minutes, air resources were overhead and began laying down retardant and dropping water, working to protect homes and stop the forward progress.
Sheriff’s deputies arrived at scene and began going house to house – some literally running up long driveways where gates were locked – informing residents of the impending danger and warning them to evacuate.
In this rural setting, many have horses and other livestock, and they began rounding up animals and preparing trailers to transport them out of harm’s way.
CHP also responded to provide roadblocks and advise motorists of the incident and alternate routes. Road 211 was closed between Road 200 and Road 208 to allow fire equipment clear and safe access.
That roadblock has now been lifted on all roads. The mandatory evacuation of Sierra Oaks Lane has also been lifted.
There are dozer transport trailers, water tenders and engines all along the road, coming and going, and motorists are advised to drive slowly, pay attention and be patient. It’s a winding road with limited visibility and fire engines are very large.
At least one strike team was diverted as they were on their way down the mountain for some much needed rest, having just come off the firelines on one of our local fires.
Other engines scrambled to cover stations whose personnel had responded to the O’Neals incident.
Though the potential for disaster was there, with some brisk intermittent winds, very dry vegetation and many homes threatened, crews had a line around this fire in about 90 minutes, had stopped the forward progress and were able to release air resources and reopen the road.
Some crews on scene will be committed for an extended period of time as they ensure the safety of the many homes in the area, fortify fire lines and do mop-up. Air Attack will be released as of 3 p.m.
One firefighter was reportedly injured during the suppression efforts.
The size of the fire is currently estimated at 40 acres.