Madera County fire nearly contained

May 20, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Firefighters expect to have a Madera County wildfire fully contained by Tuesday.

The blaze broke out Sunday afternoon in Yosemite Lakes along road 400 and sandy beach drive.

Flames have burned 91 acres and destroyed one home and about ten barns and sheds.

One Cal Fire official said the flames tore through the hilly subdivision like a blowtorch.

At one point the fire threatened dozens of homes.

It's now about 80 percent contained but crews want to make sure all of the hot spots are out before they leave the area so no one else is left with the same devastation one family is now facing.

Josh Altmiller and his family returned home to a heartbreaking scene of charred belongings Monday morning after watching this fast moving fire destroy their home Sunday night.

"You see the flames right there...that's the kids bedroom," Altmiller said.

Sheri Alquist lives nearby and says she and her children couldn't breathe as the thick black smoke poured over their property.

"I'm from Southern California. I've seen wildfires before, but this was so close, it was just scary," Alquist said.

Alquist called her neighbors who were in Fresno to let them know about the fire as her husband rushed to rescue the couple's horse from a burning corral.

"I'm just glad we were here, I would hope someone would do that if we weren't here, but we're big animal lovers. My husband is the kind of person who would probably die trying to save an animal or someone's kid," Alquist said.

About 200 firefighters also put their lives on the line to attack the blaze from the air and the ground but the wind and terrain made it a difficult battle. Several crews remained at the scene Monday, working to put out hot spots. And many people stopped to thank them for saving so much of this subdivision.

"Cal Fire, they were here, I couldn't believe how fast they mobilized, and we only lost one house it's unbelievable," Don Chubb of Yosemite Lakes said.

"It's just drier, the grass is already high, and the conditions are there for it to be a pretty nasty summer," Cal Fire Battalion Chief Glenda Leonard said.

About 100 firefighters spent the day battling the blaze. Some of them will be here all night and a few crews will stay at this scene for the next couple of days until they're confident the risk is over.

The cause of this fire is still under investigation.


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