Oak Fire 95 percent contained, full containment expected tomorrow

Oak Fire reaches 250 acres with only 10 percent contained

Cal Fire is battling a fire just three miles north of Oakhurst. Earlier evacuations were expected to be called off.
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Cal Fire is battling a fire just three miles north of Oakhurst. Earlier evacuations were expected to be called off.

The 360-acre Oak Fire, burning just a few miles north of Oakhurst, is 95 percent contained and expeceted to be fully contained by Saturday morning, Cal Fire reported.

Cal Fire Public Information Officer Jaime Williams said the fire began around 3:44 p.m. on Sept. 22, burning in the areas near Road 620 and 628. Evacuation orders and advisories were sent along Road 620, Road 628, and the communities of Lonesome Oak, Cedarbrook and Timber Loft last week.

Williams said fighting the Oak Fire had cost a total $2 million as of Friday.

Cal Fire had originally reported the fire was 390 acres on Monday, but more accurate mapping showed the fire was actually 30 acres smaller, Williams said.

According to Williams, as of Sunday night evacuation orders have been lifted for Lonesome Oak Lane, Buckeye Gap Trail and the north side of Road 620 between Lonesome Oak Lane and Badger Hollow Trail.

Monday afternoon, the evacuation orders for the communities of Cedarbrook and Timber Loft were lifted, as well.

These areas were only open to residents with valid identification and were still under advisory evacuation until Wednesday morning, when Cal Fire announced that the advisory was lifted.

The Lone Sequoia Campground is the only area still under mandatory evacuation. The Miami Motorcycle Trails, Road 6S24 from Road 628 to Highway 41, and Road 6S17 from 6S24 to Allen Road remain closed to all traffic.

Williams was unable to provide an expected reopening date for the closed areas, but was able to confirm that the structural threat of the fire had been mitigated.

California Highway Patrol and the Madera County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the evacuations. The fire was burning on state land and federal land, so the U.S. Forest Service was also assisting in the blaze.

Low humidity fed the fire’s growth when it was sparked on Saturday, Williams said, but cooler temperatures the following nights allowed firefighters to gain ground on the blaze.

Along with dry temperatures, another challenge for firefighters was the steep terrain on which the fire was burning.

Two investigators are on scene to investigate the cause and origin of the fire, Watson said.

Damian Clayton, who was among the residents told to evacuate, decided to stay.

His wife’s 40th birthday party, however, was still spoiled by the fire.

“I don’t know that we canceled it ... it just stopped happening,” he said of the festivity. “If they (guests) weren’t already here, they were getting turned around at the roadblock.”

Clayton said the fire is unfortunate. He said he’s working with a Calvin Crest, a private campsite, to clean up still from a fire from last year near the same area.

“I’m seeing the devastation there, and if we were allowed to log a little bit and grace a little bit and get in and thin this stuff out, it wouldn’t be so bad,” he said. “But unfortunately logic and reason aren’t common.”

Larry Valenzuela: 559-441-6084, @LarryValWork
Yesenia Amaro: 559-441-6144, @YeseniaAmaro