Crews contain wind-driven grass fire near Mendota

Ana Torrea Image
Thursday, May 30, 2024
Crews contain wind-driven grass fire near Mendota
Crews have contained contained a grass fire that burned hundreds of acres in western Fresno County.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Crews have contained a grass fire that scorched hundreds of acres in western Fresno County on Wednesday.

It broke out just before 3 am on Highway 180 near San Mateo Avenue, east of Mendota.

Fresno County firefighters finally contained the fire late Wednesday after it scorched 407 acres.

It started as a car fire on San Mateo and spread east and south with the wind.

Fresno County firefighters are still working to figure out how the car caught fire.

Driving down Highway 180, you can see the charred landscape left behind by the Mateo Fire.

Smoke could also still be seen coming off the ground.

"That was a very fast-moving grass fire," said Fresno County Fire Battalion Chief Seth Brown.

"The winds are typically a little stronger on the west side, and that's what usually spreads our fires quickly out there."

When fire crews arrived, the fire was spreading quickly, with the winds fueling the flames.

"That's one factor in grass fires that we can't control," said Brown.

A bulldozer from CAL FIRE was requested earlier to help control the flames, and the California Highway Patrol was called out to support traffic control.

While the fire is contained right the breezy conditions and the heat have firefighters on alert.

Johnny Rodriguez was going home when he saw all the activity.

"What was going through my mind was what was going to happen to our property," said Rodriguez. "That was really the main focus right there."

Rodriguez said this isn't their first time dealing with a fire nearby. His family's farm is just down the road from where the Mateo Fire burned. They grow all kinds of crops, from olives to pistachios.

If the fire burned their orchards, the loss would've affected their livelihood.

"It could've taken almost all of this right here, and it would've been really bad," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is relieved that the fire is out, and his family's farm is safe.

Brown said that calls for grass fires have increased as the weather warms.

"The way it's already starting, it looks like it all already be a busy fire season," said Brown. "Even though we've had quite a few grass fires, the fuels still have quite a bit of moisture in them."

Fresno County Fire said this fire threatened no homes. But firefighters are urging people to have defensible space around their homes.

No one was also injured in the Mateo Fire.

Firefighters do want to remind people that if they're towing their boats or trailers, they should make sure the chains are secured and not dragging.

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