After what Cal Fire officials called a “pretty good day” battling the Detwiler Fire, one of the largest wildfires in the state, they announced early Thursday that it has grown to more than 70,000 acres and is 10% contained.
The blaze has also claimed 45 structures in its rampage throughout Mariposa County, officials said. At least eight of those destroyed buildings are homes, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office confirmed, and 1,500 remain under threat.
Throughout Wednesday, firefighters had to deal with shifting conditions as the flames, which forced full evacuations of Mariposa on Tuesday, split to the north and caused Coulterville and surrounding areas like Greeley Hill to fall under evacuation orders in the morning.
After several days of battling such chaotic flames, Dave Russell, a deputy incident commander, told a crowd of nearly 500 in a community meeting that progress was going well.
“The west side of the fire is looking really good,” Russell said, adding most fire lines around the entire inferno were well constructed.
Those lines appeared to hold overnight, Cal Fire officials said, though the fire grew to 70,096 acres. In general, firefighters expressed strong confidence that they are gaining a good grip on the blaze.
The goals for the day, according to Cal Fire, are keep the fire east of Merced County, south of Greeley Hill Road, west of Telegraph Road, Highway 140, and Highway 49, and north of Road 600.
Nearly 3,200 firefighting personnel have been assigned to the inferno, with 410 engines, 75 bulldozers, 57 water tenders, 56 hand crews, and more than a dozen planes and helicopters overhead.
For a full list of evacuated areas and road closures, including extensive portions of highways 49 and 140 in the Mariposa area, click here.
The Red Cross has established evacuation shelters at:
☆ Evangelical Free Church, 50443 School Road (427), Oakhurst
☆ Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, 39696 Highway 41, Oakhurst
☆ Mountain Christian Center, 40299 Highway 49, Oakhurst
☆ Cesar Chavez Junior High, 161 S. Plainsburg, Planada
☆ Mother Lode Fairgrounds, 220 Southgate Drive, Sonora
Large animals are being accepted at the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds. Call (559) 676-3702 for more information. The Red Cross of the Central Valley also has a 24-hour disaster line at (559) 343-2549, and Cal Fire has its own 24-hour fire information line at 1-844-MMU-FIRE (1-844-668-3473).
Donations of all kinds are being accepted by the area Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster group in front of the Sierra Star offices at 49165 Crane Valley Road (426) in Oakhurst, from 7 a.m. to dusk.
At least two Facebook groups have been set up for members to discuss how they can help evacuated residents and their pets, as well as how to make donations to the Red Cross. Click here for that story.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Management Agency, or FEMA, authorized the use of federal funds to assist in trying to save Mariposa shortly after it was placed under evacuation. A short time later, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County as the fire continued to approach the historic city.
Jake Gorba, affiliated with Our Heroes Dreams, is reaching out to anyone in the Mariposa area who need assistance evacuating. They can contact him at (559) 760-8849. If that line doesn’t work, a second is available with Jon Cook at (559) 801-8137.
The cause of the Detwiler Fire remains under investigation.