A fire that started on John West Road near Jean West Road just after 6 p.m. Friday was contained at 7:30 p.m. after burning five acres of vegetation and small trees, as it headed up Taylor Mountain.
No structures were destroyed and no injuries were reported, although 200 homes were either evacuated or advised to be prepared to evacuate by the emergency Madera County Alert phone system. Madera County Sheriff Deputies assisted with the evacuations and traffic control. Residents were allowered to return to their homes about 8 p.m.
Responding to the fire were two air tankers, more than 10 Cal Fire and Madera County fire engines, four hand crews, and five bulldozers.
Area resident Norm Hill said he and many neighbors are convinced someone is starting the fires in the area.
“This fire is right near three other spots that we have had fire at this summer,” Hill said. “More people will be alert to anything suspicious around here and people have to be aware we have a problem up here.”
Hill said he was tired of having to pack up and leave his own home but this time he was “going to stay and fight this time,” adding Cal Fire has been “unbelievable in getting the fires out quickly ... they know what they are doing ... so professional.”
Adam and Lacy Mann live just up the road from Hill near the corner of Scott Drive and John Road East/John Road West. Adam agrees with Hill about the cause of the fires.
“A couple days ago my wife saw a suspicious person in the area walking around with a lighter in his hand,” Adam said after packing his car to evacuate. “I immediately went out looking for this person and he was gone, I think hiding in the woods.”
Fire crews will be at the fire scene throughout the night. The fire is under investigation.