CAL FIRE fights fire with fire along Highway 41 in Madera County

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Crews are fighting fire with fire in hopes of preventing a more devastating blaze down the road.

"We get a lot of fires that start from vehicles, tow chains so this project eliminates that potential," says CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Shaun Fairbanks.

Dozens of hand crews on Wednesday could be seen along Highway 41 in Madera County.

They started burning land near O'Neals and scorched roughly 70 acres.

Fairbanks says the state program has been in place for three years, and aims to eliminate the risk of wildfires in an area he says was a hotspot for fires to spark.

"We'd get 8 to 10 fires along this stretch of highway before we started this project. The last two years we've had zero ignitions along this stretch," says Fairbanks.

Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler says the project also saves thousands, if not millions of dollars in what would be fire suppression costs.

He says the county is looking at potentially doing prescribed burns in other risky areas.

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