Though the Detwiler Fire’s rampage was nearly fully contained this week at nearly 82,000 acres, repair work is underway to help fix any damages caused by suppression activities as firefighters fought to bring the blaze to an end.
Cal Fire reported that while firefighting personnel - some 1,635 of them Tuesday - continued to mop up and patrol fire lines, they also implemented an Incident Fireline Suppression Repair Plan. Len Nielson, Suppression Repair Specialist for the incident, said the plan is for crews to repair any damage to vegetation or property as a result of bulldozer lines or other firefighting activities.
“When we go out and fight fires like this, we build a lot of bulldozer lines,” Nielson said. “And some of those bulldozer lines look pretty bad, because we’re scraping up all the vegetation. So come winter time, with all that vegetation gone, there’s a higher chance of erosion across the landscape. So we’ll go in and do treatment on those lines to prevent erosion.”
Approximately 194 miles of bulldozer lines were built during the Detwiler Fire, Cal Fire reported, 57 of them on private land.
Nielson said by spreading out soil, seed crop and grasses will usually sprout before winter to help prevent any runoff water or eroded soil. The level of work needed to treat a line depends on a lot of factors, Nielson said, such as the type of vegetation affected and how steep the area is.
Nielson added other repair work is already underway on fences, culverts, and other pieces of property or landscape damaged by suppression efforts. The total cost for an estimated 60 days of repair operations is $2.37 million, Cal Fire noted.
By Tuesday afternoon, the inferno was at 81,826 acres and 90% containment. as fire lines were reportedly holding strong from previous days. All evacuation orders, advisories, and road closures were lifted.
The Detwiler Fire, which began around 4 p.m. July 16 in the Hunters Valley area east of Lake McClure, destroyed 63 homes and damaged 13 more. It also claimed 67 other structures, such as barns and sheds, damaged eight more, and destroyed one commercial structure.
To help show support for downtown Mariposa businesses shut down during several days of evacuation orders, a “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” event has been planned for Aug. 9.
On that day, the Eastern Madera-Mariposa Counties Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) urges Mountain Area residents to visit shops and restaurants in Mariposa to help revitalize sales that were lost during the fire. Those planning on visiting Mariposa that day are asked to pick up “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” tickets at the Sierra Star to pass around Mariposa on Aug. 9.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.