Mariposa fire evacuees are heading home

June 20, 2013 12:35:42 AM PDT
Hundreds of Mariposa County residents were allowed to return to their homes, as crews aided by lower temperatures and higher humidity made progress Wednesday against a wildfire near a main route into Yosemite National Park, a fire official said.

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Carstens Fire Incident Information -- Thursday, June 20 - 7:50 a.m.

Location: Off Carstens Road, east of 140 in the Midpines area of Mariposa County

Acres Burned - Containment: 1,660 acres, 60% contained

Structures Threatened: 50

Evacuations:
Evacuations remain in effect for Buckingham Mountain Rd and Carter Rd. As of 8 pm Wednesday night, Jerseydale, Mariposa Pines area, and Triangle Rd between Hwy 140 and Darrah Rd open to residents only with ID.

Cause: Unattended campfire

Total Fire Personnel: 1,663
Total Fire Engines: 117
Total Fire crews: 53
Total Helicopters: 9
Total Dozers: 16
Total Water Tenders: 15

Conditions:

There is a combination of hand and dozer line around the north end of the fire. At this time, backburn operations continue to burn successfully. The fire area continues to generate interior heat and areas of smoke. On the southwest side of the fire, the fire continues to back downslope toward the constructed dozer lines burning pockets of green fuel between the fire line and the fire. This is favorable for containment goals.

The fire has been determined to be human caused. An unattended campfire was not fully extinguished. Continued vigilance and fire safety during dry forest conditions is required.

Please be aware of large fire equipment on local roads ? slow down when passing fire crews.?

Based on public need, the Red Cross is closing their evacuee site Thursday night. ?

Road Closures:

  • Carter Rd.
  • Buckingham Mtn. Rd.
  • Triangle Rd., from HWY 140 to Darrah, open to residents only.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service is available to assist private landowners with rehabilitating property affected by the fire. Fore more information, contact: 209-966-3431, or: www.ca.nrcs.usda.gov. ?

Phone Numbers:
Evacuation Information: (209) 966-1133
Fire Information: (209) 966-4784
The Natural Resources Conservation Service: (209) 966-3431

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A total of 1,000 evacuees have now gone back home since Tuesday night, including an additional 300 or so overnight, state fire spokeswoman Tina Rose said.

About 400 to 500 people remain evacuated, and it's not clear when they'll receive permission to return. But Rose said fire crews have almost completely stopped the blaze's forward progress. It has burned about 2 1/2 square miles and is 40 percent contained.

"We almost have this thing buttoned up," she said.

Crews plan to light backfires to take out any potential fuel for the blaze, which was started Sunday by a campfire that wasn't fully out before it was abandoned. About 2,200 firefighters were called in to battle the blaze.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury. No homes or buildings were damaged or destroyed.

The Red Cross has set up a shelter in Mariposa for evacuees.

State Route 140 into Yosemite National Park remains open. Tourists can see some smoke from the road itself, but it does not affect visitors in the park, said park spokesman Scott Gediman. The fire is burning about 35 miles west of the park's boundary, Gediman said.

"Visitors coming into the park are fine," he said. "We're not discouraging visits, just the opposite. If people have plans, there's absolutely no reason for them not to come."

Officials said the fire danger is extreme in California this year, due to an especially dry spring. Already this year, more than 80 square miles have burned across the state. At this time last year, about 30 square miles had burned. CalFire has responded to 2,600 fires so far in 2013, a 75 percent increase from 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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