Evacuation order lifted as crews make progress on Hunters Fire in Mariposa County

Investigators believe a lawnmower sparked the fire.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Crews are working to get full control of a fire that forced evacuations on Sunday night, east of Lake McClure in Mariposa County.

The bright pink retardant and charred black brush that cover a hillside off Hunters Valley Road are remnants of the firefight that started around 7 Sunday night.

John and Olin Bryant live within 50 yards of where the blaze was burning.

"Just a wall of flames right across here....," says Olin Bryant.

Olin lost his previous home during the devastating Detwiler fire in 2017.

This time he and his wife evacuated to a motel in Mariposa that was nearly vacant due to COVID-19 restrictions. His son stayed behind out of concern for the dozens of animals on his property, including several alpacas and llamas.

"It came over here real fast, but the firefighters were extremely fast getting to it," sys John Bryant.

The Sheriff's Office says a total of 6 homes on the road were under mandatory evacuation orders, and only emergency traffic was allowed in as crews worked to gain containment from the ground and the air. They made significant progress overnight, and residents were later allowed to return home.

On Monday, CAL FIRE reduced the total number of acres burned from 180 to 85, due to more accurate mapping.

And fire officials say the flames are now 25% contained.

The blaze was just one of several CAL FIRE crews battled across the state during the windy weekend. The agency is now gearing up for the peak wildfire season.

"We are hiring additional firefighters starting on June 15. They will be going through a week-long training that will be performed at the local stations, and they will be hitting the ground ready to go with boots on the ground by June 22," says CAL FIRE spokersperson Jamie Williams.

Hazard reduction burning will also be restricted across all elevations of Madera, Mariposa, and Merced counties starting Wednesday, and residents are urged to be cautious when using equipment, especially around dry vegetation. Investigators believe a lawnmower sparked the latest fire.

"95% of all fires are human-caused, so we want to encourage everyone to get out create and maintain their defensible space, but do it in a safe manner," says Williams.
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