Cal Fire: Hunter Fire effectively contained

A photo by Robert Patterson of the Hunter Fire, taken from the Hunters Valley area on July 27, 2017.
A photo by Robert Patterson of the Hunter Fire, taken from the Hunters Valley area on July 27, 2017. Submitted photo

A Cal Fire public information officer said Thursday evening that a spot fire sparked around 11:30 a.m., which grew to between 100-150 acres in a few hours, is being treated as part of the overall Detwiler Fire in Mariposa County.

As such, Koby Johns said, what was for a short period unofficially named the Hunter Fire was effectively contained by 5:30 p.m.

“It is well within our containment lines,” Johns said of the spot fire, lit in the Detwiler and Cotton Creek Road area, near where the Detwiler Fire was sparked July 16. “It is contained. It’s not going to make a difference on the acreage of the Detwiler Fire, and air and ground resources were already working in that area all day.”

Johns said the cause of the Hunter Fire is under investigation, but fuels in the area were “100% receptive” to any kind of potential spark or ignition.

Some firefighters, air attack crews including at least one Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT), and ground resources from the main Detwiler Fire - at 81,250 acres and 75% contained Thursday morning - were diverted towards the Hunter Fire. Johns didn’t have immediate numbers on how many crews were diverted.

Johns said firefighters are attacking the fire’s spread from both the ground and air to ensure it’s completely stopped, as it moves to the northwest.

The spot fire grew to around 40 acres by 1:40 p.m. with a moderate to dangerous rate of spread, and expanded to more than 100 acres by 2:30 p.m.

Around 3 p.m., the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office reported drones were flying on the northern end of the flames, forcing aircraft to be temporarily grounded over safety concerns until the area could be cleared. Drones have proven to be a danger to aircraft in previous years, and anyone caught flying one over wildfires is breaking the law and could be subject to arrest.

Johns could not confirm whether drones were active in the area, and said that, to his knowledge, they did not affect air operations.

“It’s definitely possible there were drones in the area, but I’m not aware of that right now,” Johns said.