A grass fire near an Oakhurst church temporarily forced evacuation of a neighborhood along Highway 49, according to Madera County Fire reports. The blaze was reported at 1:37 p.m., and emergency personnel were quick to respond, including one air attack, two tankers, one helicopter, two hand crews, one dozer, two water tenders and 16 engines.
The Church fire, near Sierra Pines Church, 40869 Highway 49 at Vista Del Rio Drive, burned 5.1 acres and by 3:23 p.m., was 60% contained with a halt on all forward progress.
The church was evacuated, as well as a neighborhood on nearby Covey Way, Cal Fire reported. Highway 49 remained open, but drivers are asked to use caution.
Aerial attack planes and helicopters - some of them diverted from the growing Ben Fire in Mariposa - were ordered to assist on the fire, with multiple retardant and water drops.
“Seven structures were potentially threatened, and there was the potential of 30 to 40 acres being burned,” said Cal Fire Public Information Officer Jaime Williams, “but the firefighters did a great job.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Most resources were released back to the Ben Fire in the Mormon Bar area of Mariposa County, west of Ahwahnee.
Cooperating agencies included Cal Fire’s Madera-Mariposa-Merced Unit, Madera County Fire Department, the Sierra National Forest, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, and California Highway Patrol.