Crews fight large fire in Catheys Valley


The fire started around 12:45 near Hornitos and Old Toll Roads in Catheys Valley.

Once the so-called "Gaines fire" got going Tuesday, crews faced an uphill battle trying to contain it.

"What are the crews struggling with right now?"

Karen Guillemin with Cal Fire said, "Higher temperatures, lower humidity, fuel moistures are low right now. Lower than they should be this time of year."

Above the flames, helicopters and air tankers were brought in to dump water and fire retardant.

On the ground, dozers, along with more than 200 firefighters, worked quickly to build a containment line.

Homeowner Jessica Bryson said, "It was all around my mother in law's house, and my house, it's all around the property."

Jessica Bryson lives in Corbett Creek. Once the fire came within 50 yards of her home, sheriff's deputies urged her and others nearby residents to evacuate.

She said, "We took the sheep, we took some horses, we had dogs, and cats, and the kids grabbed their blankies."

Instead of leaving the area, Russ Bryson headed to his parents' home, where he washed away fire retardant that had splattered all over.

Russ credits fire crews, as well as defensible space for saving the property. Fortunately, he says all they lost was next fall's cattle feed.

Homeowner Russ Bryson said, "This piece goes back and then goes up to Corbett Creek, and that's where most of the feed was taken out."

Fire officials don't know what caused the fast moving blaze. They say it could take at least a couple of days until it's completely out.

Crews from all over the Valley helped with the fire, including Fresno, Madera, Merced and Mariposa counties.

In the video, Action News reporter Shannon Handy has complete coverage on the story.

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