NORTH FORK – It only took a gust of wind for a burn pile that was reportedly lit off two days ago to flare up and start a vegetation fire along Road 223 near Taylor Ridge Road this afternoon.
Brothers Matthew and Austin Niblett had just left their residence a couple houses down, when they noticed a large column of smoke rising from the west side of the road as they headed towards Oakhurst.
They stopped on the shoulder of the roadway and cut through the barbed wire fence, where they discovered a fire burning through thick brush on a steep hillside. They ran to the house just up the hill from the fire, but found no one home. Matthew grabbed a hose attached to the house to try and douse the fire, but it wouldn’t reach far enough to be of any use.
When firefighters arrived at the narrow dirt driveway, they had to maneuver their engines up the steep incline to reach the burn pile, which had now grown to about one-quarter acre.
Cal Fire Engine 4254 and 4275 responded, along with Madera County Engine 11 and Water Tender 17. Crews had a line around the blaze in short order, but it had potential to threaten many homes in the surrounding hills had it not been spotted by Matthew and Austin, and contained so quickly by firefighters.
The resident returned home from a quick errand to find her home being saved from a threat she didn’t even know existed.
Neighbors lined Road 223 to watch the progress of the suppression efforts, and express concern about hazard reduction burning in these very dry conditions.
Everyone is reminded to make sure your fires are DEAD OUT!