NORTH FORK — Firefighters are on scene of a fire burning on the northeast corner of Road 225 and Road 274 in North Fork. The fire was reported at 5:24 p.m., and has been dubbed the School Fire.
The fire started on the top of the hill between Road 230 and Road 274, just north of Road 225 (see map below).
The first engine on scene reported the fire at five acres with one structure threatened, burning in oak woodland.
Anyone at the Rec Center in North Fork was immediately evacuated by Sierra National Forest personnel.
At 5:53 p.m. the fire was reported at approximately 15 acres, wind-driven and burning at a moderate rate of spread.
Just minutes after the School Fire was reported, a structure fire in Oakhurst at Oakhurst Tire required crews to respond, but with that fire quickly handled, resources were released to the School Fire.
There are currently 170 personnel assigned to the incident with resources from Cal Fire, Sierra National Forest and Madera County Fire. There are 12 engines, 5 ground crews, 2 dozers and 3 water tenders. Air resources included one Air Attack, four tankers and two helicopters, and all have been released.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to handle any necessary notifications, and residents along the east side of Road 274 north of Road 225 were told to evacuate.
A soft closure was put in place for Road 225 at the intersection of Road 274 eastbound. Only residents were being allowed through.
A hard closure was put in place on Road 274 between Road 225 and the transfer station (dump), and on Road 230 (Rec Center). Road 274 is expected to re-open at 9 p.m.
At 6:30 p.m., the fire was estimated at 25 acres with 10 percent containment.
Dozers cut a line straight across from Road 230 to Road 274 right at the power pole going in to the Rec Center. That stopped the forward progress at 6:47 p.m. The fire didn’t reach the Rec Center gate, but made it about halfway in from Road 225.
Resources not at scene were cancelled at that point, except for the ground crews, who have their work cut out for them. Serious tree mortality and heavy fuels will mean a lot of mop-up work.
A power line reportedly came down in the middle of the fire perimeter, and residents in the area have been reporting both long-term and intermittent power outages.
At 8:25 p.m., after the perimeter had been walked and GPS’d, the incident commander reported the updated, more accurate size of the fire at 12.11 acres, with 50 percent containment. Firefighters will work through the night strengthening firelines and hitting hot spots.
At 9 p.m., all road closures and evacuations were lifted.
On Wednesday morning, Cal Fire reported the fire 80 percent contained.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.