Willow Fire 90% contained

The Willow Fire was 90% contained Thursday morning and crews will continue mopping up hot spots along its perimeter as well as fulfill repairs to fire lines, the U.S. Forest Service Reported.

Personnel numbers continued to decrease to 864, from the peak of around 2,000 during the fire’s most intense days last week. Current costs to fight a 5,702-acre blaze were estimated at $18 million.

More than 1.6 million gallons of water, drawn from Bass Lake and other sources, was used in both water and flame retardant drops.

All evacuation orders were lifted Tuesday, but Willow Canyon Road, Autumn Ridge Road, and Douglas Ranger Station Road remain closed to the general public. Residents in those areas, including Cascadel Woods, are allowed to enter upon showing identification.

The federal BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) Team, comprised of specially-trained professionals in areas like hydrology, soil science, and biology, is continuing a survey of burned areas. Smoke can still be seen within the fire as interior islands and material continue to smolder.

The Willow Fire was allegedly sparked July 25 by a boy playing with a lighter he obtained from his family’s toolbox. Charges are expected to be filed against him sometime this week, Madera County District Attorney David Linn said, with punishments, if convicted, ranging from probation to time in juvenile hall.

The incident is unrelated to a teenager serving a year of probation after a November conviction of starting 13 fires in the Oakhurst area between July and September last year.

The Willow Fire will transition to a Type 3 management team Friday morning.

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