Gold Fire near O'Neal's is fully contained

May 2, 2013 12:35:52 AM PDT
Dozens of firefighters are working to keep a wildfire from flaring up again. The Gold Fire broke out Tuesday near the town of O'Neal's in Madera County.

The air attack continued Wednesday with a helicopter dropping water on the smoldering hillside near O'Neal's. On the ground, firefighters shoveled, scraped, and sprayed to prevent hot embers from sparking new flames.

"The guys are out working hard, mopping up today," said Cal Fire Captain Brent Barry. "The initial attack crew did a good job so we're up here backfilling behind them."

Hundreds of Cal Fire crews rushed to the Gold Fire Tuesday, but it still spread quickly through the steep terrain. Strong wind and unusually hot and dry conditions added to the challenge.

"Everything's dry, but not just the light grasses and fuels, but the brush is dry and so are the trees," said Karen Guillemin, Cal Fire public information officer. "If you look around the trees are already stressing, so if a fire gets started it's going to be harder to stop it once it gets into all the fuels."

The flames threatened three homes and had many residents on edge, including volunteer firefighter Wayne Wellington.

Wellington said, "I went up and moved my vehicles and some of my clothes and stuff like that because I thought I was going to lose everything."

Crews made significant progress after overnight, and no structures were damaged. But the fire blackened more than 270 acres of rangeland used for grazing cattle. Officials say this fire shows how high the risk already is -- as we head into the fire season. And longtime resident Pat Washburn agrees.

"It's going to be a terrible fire season," said Washburn. "Short grass, fast fire."

Cal Fire officials tell ABC30 about 80 firefighters are out on scene. They still have enough resources to do the initial attack on another fire if one breaks out soon, but they would have to call for back-up from other areas if there are any other major incidents.

The cause of this fire is still under investigation.


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