Wildfire near Squaw Valley fuels fears of dangerous fire season

SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. (KFSN) -- A wildfire threatened several vacant homes in the eastern part of Fresno County. Firefighters fully contained the blaze Saturday afternoon.

The flames broke out near Squaw Valley, in the area of Dunlap and Ruth Hill roads, earlier in the day. It charred about three acres. One Cal Fire firefighter was taken to the hospital for evaluation.

Patches of burned brush smoked along the hillside, not too far from vacant homes that Cal Fire crews say could have easily been destroyed. The Ruth Hill Fire was burning around the same time when neighbors in Shaver Lake met with Cal Fire to talk about fire safety as summer approaches.

"Because it is a remote area, they rely on the lakes to get the water to fight the fires, and there's just not that much in our lakes anymore," said Lt. Frances Devins with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Nearly 150 Shaver Lake neighbors who showed up reviewed safety plans for before, during and after a fire hits.

"Their evacuation plans are very reassuring. In case there is a fire, where we would go, who would we contact, what we need to bring with us," neighbor Shirley Brown said.

Eric MacIntyre, a homeowner who lives in the area all year round, says he's concerned about neighbors who only spend months out of the year at Shaver Lake and don't spend time clearing their yards.

"I'm a full-time resident, and I clean my property every year, but then you got your neighbor that doesn't do anything," said MacIntyre. "Even though up to the property line, if they got a fire raging next to you, there's not much you can do."

Cal Fire and Fresno County deputies remind neighbors to have 100 feet of defensible space around your home, and if necessary, they will hand out citations if homeowners don't comply.

"Currently, we have dedicated inspectors that are doing the defensible space, 4291 clearance inspections, and they are going to be in the area within the next month, inspecting every home throughout the Shaver community," said Jim McDougal with Cal Fire.

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