Briceburg Fire near Yosemite National Park continues to burn, but there’s good news for locals

Residents forced out of their homes by the Briceburg Fire near Yosemite National Park are being allowed to return, Cal Fire officials said on Friday.

The fire that has burned 5,563 acres and destroyed a structure was 60% contained by Saturday night, officials said. Cal Fire lifted fire advisement and all of the mandatory evacuations as of 1 p.m.

Minimal fire activty was reported throughout the day and firefighters continure to secure and enforce containment lines, officials reported Saturday.

By Friday evening, the fire had consumed 5,100 acres but was up to 40% containment, Cal Fire said. There was minimal overnight actvity and the added 90 acres on Saturday was due to better mapping, officials said.

Highway 140 about 15 miles east of Mariposa remains closed all the way to Savages Trading Post, according to a news release. Buffalo Gulch Road will be open only to residents.

The power to some homes will not immediately be restored. As fire crews continue to work in the area with a large number of firefighting equipment, officials ask drivers to slow down. Speed control will be enforced, the release said.

Trees and poles showing deep charring or still smoking should be considered hazardous, officials said. Upon returning home, residents should immediately evaluate damage to their property and be aware of hazardous conditions, including asbestos, heavy metals, by-products of plastic combustion and other chemicals.

Cal Fire officials Thursday afternoon declined to release information on the structure that was destroyed in the fire.

The blaze started at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday near the Briceburg Road bridge on Highway 140. It quickly swelled Monday and Tuesday to more than 3,000 acres.

An evacuation center had been set up at New Life Christian Fellowship in Mariposa, but the Red Cross placed the location on standby, officials said. Roughly 130 people were displaced but none arrived at the center.

A small animal evacuation center set up by the SPCA of Mariposa County also was on standby after no requests for assistance were made by evacuees, according to the Red Cross.

For concerns related to power, contact PG&E at 800-743-5000 or at www.pge.com.

The Mariposa County Health Department has health and safety information for residents returning to their homes at www.mariposacounty.org/235/Environmental-Health or call 209-966-3689. Additional information regarding other services is at www.mariposacountyrecovers.org.

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Reporter Thaddeus Miller has covered cities in the central San Joaquin Valley since 2010, writing about everything from breaking news to government and police accountability. A native of Fresno, he joined The Fresno Bee in 2019 after time in Merced and Los Banos.