Mariposa County ranchers return to devastated lands

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Dry grass fueled the Detwiler Fire as it swept through the hills of Mariposa County. The flames consumed thousands of acres and left very little behind for the livestock that once grazed these fields. (KFSN)

As the Detwiler Fire moves away from populated areas, many ranchers are returning to burned out fields.

Dry grass fueled the Detwiler Fire as it swept through the hills of Mariposa County. The flames consumed thousands of acres and left very little behind for the livestock that once grazed these fields.

Lise Olson helped save some of the animals.

"I've seen a lot of cattle that have made it, sitting in the midst of charred fields and burnt trees," she said.

It's a tough loss for ranchers, and countless pastures of natural feed are now scorched from corner to corner.

"We prayed for rain in the winter time, and we got a bunch of it which was great, which gave a lot of feed and now it's gone," Troy Gallaway with Gallaway Feed and Supply said.

Gallaway runs a feed store in Cathey's Valley. Ranchers will have to turn to him to buy hay. If they're lucky, they can pick it up for free from anonymous donors across the street.

"It's gonna go down in history, this was a big one and there's been plenty of support," he said.

Driving down Hornitos Road shows a stark contrast. Cattle on one side - oblivious to the devastation - across the street is destruction. A closer look reveals another problem - fence lines, destroyed or weakened by the fire.

Olson says some animals took off running, some got lost, others died and ranchers have been trying to round up the survivors.

"Thousands of feet of fence has been destroyed, not only do you have to find your cattle but you have to figure out how to contain them," she said.

Many of the animals Olsen rescued ended up at the fairgrounds. And on Monday, the owners came looking for them. Raphael Cornejo showed up and found his band of mini horses.

"Look at this, they're beautiful," he said. "I'm really, really happy my horses are fine because they're my babies."

He says his ranch is fine. The fire didn't touch his fields. Olsen says he's fortunate, and the community will come together to help those who weren't.

"Mariposa is a real tight-knit community," he said. "We all band together and I think that's what we have on our side."

The shelter is also a drop-off spot for hay. If you want to help out the ranchers, you can donate here. The Gallaway feed store is also taking those donations.

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wildfiremariposa countyMariposa County
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