Relentless fire season, mountain communities forced to evacuate

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Resources are stretched thin as more than 20 active wildfire plague the state. (KFSN)

Resources are stretched thin as more than 20 active wildfire plague the state.

"What we do have is local state and federal resources providing personnel to attack fires," said Brad Bihun, PIO

Battling flames from the ground and air, more than 75 hundred firefighters are working across the state. The three burning in the Madera and Mariposa Counties are the peak, mission, and railroad fires --prompting hundreds of evacuations and road closures.

The combination of unpredictable weather, tree mortality and virtually inaccessible flames are proving dangerous for firefighters--despite record rainfall over the winter. This fire season is comparable to drought years past.

"We want to protect the residents and homes in the area and put out the fires as well and do so in a safe manner," said Bihun.

Collectively the fires have prompted hundreds of evacuations many of the residents wondering if they are even going to have a home to return to when this is over.

"It's pretty safe they know what they're doing and they know how to do the job," said Julian Reck, evacuee.

This is the second time in 40 years Julian Reck and his wife Dolores have been evacuated from their Sierra Sky Ranch home.

Confident the fire is far up the hill from their home. They are thankful to firefighters for protecting their property-- a sentiment shared throughout the community.

"A lot of them are afraid because of the dead trees--most people are pretty calm," said Reck.

As for Madera County losses, District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler says the board will have to wait til the fires out for an exact dollar amount. However, he did tell us road closures impacting tourism mean sales and Transient Occupancy Tax are significantly down.
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