Crews work to put out wildfire in Tulare Co.

FRESNO, Calif. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Granite Fire Incident Information:
Last Updated: July 11, 2011 7:00 am

Acres Burned: 832
Containment: 90% contained - Full containment expected Tuesday.
Structures Destroyed: 1 residence and 5 outbuildings - No structures threatened
Conditions: Firefighters have stopped the forward rate of spread and are concentrating their efforts on peremeter control and mopping up hot spots. Some of the terrain is difficult to access.

The fire has burned 832 acres. Six outbuildings and one uninhabited structure were destroyed in the fire.

The blaze charred the hillside directly behind Granite Hills High School, which created a cloud of smoke that could be seen from miles away. "Everywhere you looked, there were little fires burning."

When John Eby returned to his Porterville home Saturday night, he was surprised to see smoke and flames engulfing the hillside less than 200 yards away.

"When we were coming home, we saw the smoke from Visalia and we said whoa, that looks like it's a a lake," Eby said. "And it wasn't until we got home that we saw it was right behind us."

Fire officials say the blaze started near an abandoned home and quickly spread. 150 firefighters from several different agencies including Tulare, Madera and Kern counties were called in to assist.

Throughout the early evening hours, and into the night, they battled heat and wind gusts which proved challenging in putting the fire out.

"When you're dealing with fires like this in the wildland, wind is a dictator of all fire, wind and slope and this fire just kept moving around on us, made it a little difficult to contain," Captain Aldo Gonzalez said.

Two helicopters, along with an air tanker were able to reach places fire crews could not. By Noon Sunday, the fire had grown to nearly 900 acres and was fifty percent contained.

"I've never seen it burn like this, so and we've lived here fifteen years, so I've never seen it burn as much as it's burned now," Kevin Taggard said.

Investigators say they still don't know what started the blaze. But, with fire season well underway, they're asking everyone to use caution. "Be careful with fires. Don't play with matches and we can prevent things like this from happening and it's real easy."

One firefighter was treated for a minor burn on his hand and fire officials say firefighters will be out there until 8 a.m. Monday morning.

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