Firefighters tackle wildland fire near Prather

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A wildland fire tore through the Fresno County foothills on Monday, destroying one structure and threatening several homes.

The fire broke just after 3 p.m. near the 16000 block of Morgan Canyon Road, south of Prather. Fresno County Fire officials say the fire is holding at 40 acres and is 60 percent contained.

Large orange flames tore through acres of dry brush and destroyed barbecues and chairs right outside Charlie Scheppner's home.

"The wind was really kicking up fast, and because my property was low, it just flew right across it, went around the house and just kept going," said Scheppner.

But he feels lucky his house is okay.

"I am very glad I had my defensible space in. I weeded everything out at least 100 feet, in some places even a lot more than that, and I am glad I did because the fire just flew through underneath the trees real quick," said Scheppner.

During air attacks, crews used water to put out the fire. At one point, the blaze destroyed a commercial structure and threatened several houses near Wildflower Lane. Strike teams battled the burn from the ground where they put out hot spots. Additional engines were called in for backup.

"With the temperatures we are experiencing, the low humidity, the breezy conditions, the amount of people and population in this area, there is really no room for error," said Cal Fire/Fresno County Fire spokesman Ryan Michaels.

For more than two hours, Highway 168 was closed from Millerton Road to Prather, so families parked at an intersection waiting to go home. Cal Fire says several people reported signs of heat exhaustion and smoke inhalation. One person got minor burns.

"I just jumped out of the car, grabbed a shovel and tried to make a fire break and burned my hand a little bit. It just took off, the trees were exploding," said Ralph Beckman.

Firefighters want to remind everyone especially people who live in areas with a lot of dry vegetation to make sure you create a defensible space around your home.

At this point, firefighters are working to figure out what caused this fire.
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