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Additional evacuations ordered as smoke disrupts tanker drops on Detwiler Fire

Up-close footage of California National Guard firefighting efforts

The 129th Rescue Wing shows its recent firefighting efforts in Northern California. The crew on the Pave Hawk helicopter, included Major Nate Nowaski, Capt. Tyler Gibson, Staff Sgt. Christian Meyers and Senior Airman Ryan Dumatol. Video was posted
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The 129th Rescue Wing shows its recent firefighting efforts in Northern California. The crew on the Pave Hawk helicopter, included Major Nate Nowaski, Capt. Tyler Gibson, Staff Sgt. Christian Meyers and Senior Airman Ryan Dumatol. Video was posted

Dense smoke has made air tanker drops on the Detwiler Fire increasingly difficult, firefighters reported Thursday afternoon as the blaze continued to spread and forced further evacuations.

The evacuations have expanded to Bull Creek Road up to the Merced River, and on Old Yosemite Road. Mariposa and Coulterville, as well as the Greeley Hill area, remain under mandatory evacuation orders. Any areas affected by the blaze, which began near Lake McClure on Sunday, July 16, also remain under evacuation.

A sample of the images on social media from firefighters battling the Detwiler Fire in Mariposa County on Wednesday, July 19, 2017.

Air attack crews were reportedly facing difficulties as the fire pumped out vast clouds of smoke, mostly on the northern end as it approaches the Coulterville area.

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 in the Mariposa area, and north of Road 600 in the Raymond area.

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.

The 70,000-plus-acre Detwiler fire burning near Yosemite National Park west of Mariposa can be seen from a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite above. The satellite imagery shows wind pushing the smoke.

For a full list of evacuated areas and road closures, including extensive portions of highways 49 and 140 in the Mariposa area, click here.

For further details on the fire’s acreage and number of structures destroyed, 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.

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.

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