Wildfire in Central California Causes Evacuations

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Mandatory evacuations in Mariposa County in Central California were ordered by government officials after a wildfire in the area caused considerable damage. The 500-acre wildfire started around 3:30 p.m. near Lake McClure in Hunters Valley. At about 7:30 p.m., authorities ordered the evacuation of 30 to 40 residences in the county. Mariposa’s County Sheriff, Kristie Mitchell, stated that no other homes need to be evacuated, but that is subject to change. The fire has destroyed two uninhabited structures, according to the county’s fire department. The cause for the fire has yet to be discovered.

The Central California wildfire is threatening approximately 100 homes in the Mariposa area that may need to be evacuated if firefighters cannot stop the blaze. The fire nearly doubled in size overnight, now covering a distance of almost 900 acres. Only 10 percent of the fire is contained. When the fire originally started, 100 firefighters were battling the fire and attempting to contain/extinguish it. Now 500 firefighters are currently working on tempering the blaze, according to California State Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. He stated that the area’s dry brush and steep terrain make it extraordinarily difficult to control the fire, adding that the high temperatures expected this week will not help either. Crews from the U.S. Forest Service were brought in to provide assistance. Berlant said the main priority is building containment lines and putting out “hotspots.” Airplanes, bulldozers, and helicopters were brought in to assist the containment of the fire by clearing out brush that is susceptible to spreading the fire, dropping extinguishing solution on the blaze, and providing evacuation for the area’s inhabitants.

The evacuations, caused by the Central California wildfire, pertain to all those living on Hunters Valley Road, Bear Valley Road, Hunters Valley Access Road, and Detwiler Road. A center for the evacuees has been set up at McKay Hall in Catheys Valley. The American Red Cross Central Valley Region is estimated to receive 40 families. The specific origin of the blaze, which is burning near Lake McClure in the Bear Valley area, is unknown. California Fire Department representatives did state that the fire began as a structure fire and spread to the dry brush in the surrounding area and grew exponentially, thus enabling it to be classified as a wildfire. Berlant expressed his concern that more people are in the area due to the Memorial Day weekend. Berlant did assert that the Cal Fire Department is prepared for a blaze like this, and have improved greatly from the wildfires that burned Southern California in the past weeks. He also stated that there has always been fire incidents in the area on the holiday weekend.

The wildfire proves the state’s fire officials estimations of a challenging year with wildfires. High temperatures and low humidity are providing the optimal environment for wildfires in the region. Battalion chief of the Kern County, Kirk Kushen, stated that she had to put on her “wildlife gear” earlier than ever before, and that wildfires in the Californian regions are a continuous contention, with each fire needing a different set of remedies than another.

By Andres Loubriel

LA Times 

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