Detwiler Fire evening update: 75,000 acres, 61 homes destroyed

A building known as the Little Church in the Hills, on Mount Bullion Cutoff Road, was one of at least 124 structures destroyed by the Detwiler Fire near Mariposa and Yosemite through Friday evening.
A building known as the Little Church in the Hills, on Mount Bullion Cutoff Road, was one of at least 124 structures destroyed by the Detwiler Fire near Mariposa and Yosemite through Friday evening. HighMountain Images

In numbers released by Cal Fire Friday evening, it appears the Detwiler Fire may soon be meeting its end.

The raging inferno, which sent thousands running from their homes to escape its spread north and south of Mariposa, grew to 75,000 acres by Friday evening with 61 homes destroyed, Cal Fire announced.

However, those numbers appear to indicate firefighters have formed a good hold on the flames, as the acreage increased by less than a thousand from morning reports, and containment increased to 25%. The number of destroyed homes increased by three, from 58 in the morning count, with 1,500 still under threat.

Thirteen other homes have been damaged, with 63 minor structures destroyed and six damaged, as 4,408 personnel, using 542 engines, 20 helicopters, air tankers, 75 hand crews, and 88 bulldozers battled the blazed.

Evacuation orders were lifted for the main town area of Mariposa around 11 a.m. Friday, followed by more areas being reopened to residents that evening. Barring any significant changes, the reduction in growth and increase in containment appears to show the raging blaze may be coming to an end.

2,930 PG&E customers out of power

According to spokesman Denny Boyles, there are 130 PG&E employees and 81 contractors at the base camp near the Mariposa-Yosemite Airport, and other employees are providing support from offices throughout the area’s service territory.

“As of now we have 2,930 customers out of power due to fire-related damage,” Boyles said in a prepared statement Friday morning. “Since the fire started, we’ve had approximately 11,000 customers lose power. We began restoration on Monday night by routing power around damaged circuits, and we are continuing that process going forward whenever its necessary.”

On Wednesday, Cal Fire was able to clear limited access for PG&E to safely begin assessments of fire damage in a few areas where the fire is mostly out.

PG&E had 16 assessment teams working Friday.

Fire information resources

Cal Fire has its own 24-hour fire information line at 1-844-MMU-FIRE (1-844-668-3473), where some assistance may be found.

For a full list of evacuations and road closures, including extensive portions of highways 49, 140, and 132 in the Mariposa area, click here.

The Red Cross has established evacuation centers at:

☆ Evangelical Free Church, 50443 School Road (427), Oakhurst

☆ Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, 39696 Highway 41, Oakhurst

☆ Mountain Christian Center, 40299 Highway 49, Oakhurst

☆ North Fork Rancheria Community Center, 56900 Kunigib Road, North Fork

☆ 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, and small animals are welcome at some of the centers. Call (559) 676-3702 for more information on large animals, and the Red Cross 24-hour disaster line at (559) 343-2549 for centers.

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.

An interactive map of the fire’s spread, as it gets closer to Coulterville north and Ben Hur south, can be seen by clicking here.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Management Agency, or FEMA, previously authorized the use of federal funds to assist in trying to save Mariposa shortly after it was placed under evacuation. Governor Jerry Brown has also declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County as the fire continued to approach the historic city.

Officials have indicated these actions should free up funding to help provide financial relief for those affected by the Detwiler Fire.

Cal Fire officials have stressed tall, dry grasses from a strong winter, coupled with dead trees, unpredictable winds, and extremely steep, rocky terrain has made controlling the flames an immense challenge.

At latest count, officials estimate the cost of fighting the Detwiler Fire at $10.7 million.