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Eight Firefighters Injured in Battle to Contain Blaze West of Yosemite

| May 28, 2014
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On Monday, smoke rose from the Hunters Fire near Lake McClure in Mariposa County. (Carol Barrentez via Twitter)

On Monday, smoke rose from the Hunters Fire near Lake McClure in Mariposa County. (Carol Barrentez via Twitter)

Update 9:40 p.m. Wednesday: Some new numbers on the Hunters Fire, burning in the Sierra foothills northwest of the town of Mariposa and west of Yosemite. Cal Fire has downgraded the acreage burned from 1,300 acres to 677 and says the blaze is now 40 percent contained. The agency says eight firefighters have been injured, including one crew member who suffered significant injuries in a chainsaw accident. The total number of firefighters now on the lines: 900.

Update, 10:20 a.m. Wednesday: Cal Fire’s morning update on the Hunters Fire burning in the foothills west of Yosemite National Park suggests the fire hasn’t grown much in the last 24 hours and that firefighters haven’t made much progress yet in corralling it. The fire agency still gives the burned acreage as 1,300, with 20 percent containment. Cal Fire says 671 firefighters are on the lines.

Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said Wednesday morning that four firefighters have suffered minor injuries. A fifth firefighter sustained what Berlant termed “serious lacerations” in a chainsaw accident. He said all of the injured were treated at the scene and taken to Memorial Medical Center in Modesto.

Two residences and one outbuilding have been burned since the fire broke out Monday afternoon. About 100 other homes are threatened.

Update, 2:55 p.m. Tuesday: Cal Fire has updated the acreage figure for the Hunters Fire, burning near Lake McClure in the foothills of the central Sierra Nevada. Officials say the fire has burned about 1,300 acres. About 100 residences are threatened.

Cal Fire spokesperson Daniel Berlant told KQED’s Ted Goldberg on Tuesday that, as elsewhere in the state, the drought is playing a major role in the Hunters Fire. “Right now we’re seeing fire activity like it was in the middle of summer, even the late summer,” when fire activity is at its peak. “So this fire was able to grow very, very quickly because of just how dry it is.”

Smoke can be seen throughout the area, including at entrances to Yosemite National Park. But as of midafternoon Tuesday, the blaze does not pose a threat to the main routes into the park.

Original post: Cal Fire has sent about 500 firefighters to try to contain a fast-spreading blaze burning near Lake McClure, a big reservoir on the Merced River west of Yosemite National Park. As of midmorning Monday, the Hunters Fire had burned across about 900 acres and destroyed one home. Mariposa County authorities ordered 56 other homes to evacuate.

Cal Fire is currently using a half-dozen air tankers and four helicopters to limit the spread of the blaze, which is 20 percent contained.

The fire is burning about 15 miles northwest of the town of Mariposa and about 30 miles west of Yosemite Valley. The blaze is not currently threatening any of the access routes to the park.

Here’s the latest story on the fire from the Associated Press:

MARIPOSA — State fire officials brought in hundreds of additional firefighters to battle a Central California blaze that had burned through 1.4 square miles as of Tuesday morning and was threatening about 100 rural homes.

The fire burning in foothills near Lake McClure in Mariposa County nearly doubled in size overnight and was 20 percent contained, state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said. The threatened homes are under evacuation orders.

Berlant said about 500 firefighters were battling the Hunters Fire on Tuesday morning, up from 100 firefighters when the blaze began a day earlier.

The fire — fueled by dry brush — was burning in steep terrain that crews were having difficulty accessing. Temperatures were also expected to be in the 90s on Tuesday. Berlant said air tankers and helicopters were being used to fight the blaze.

“This fire is burning like it would in summer with the dry conditions we’ve been experiencing,” Berlant said.

The fire began on Monday afternoon as a structure fire, Berlant said. No additional structures were damaged or destroyed as of Tuesday morning, Berlant said.

Meanwhile, a fire burning in and around Oak Creek Canyon in northern Arizona continued to grow in size even though firefighters have established a containment line around all of it.

The fire’s size increased from 28.9 square miles Monday evening to 31.7 square miles Tuesday morning due to burnout operations intended to deprive the flames of fuel.

The fire’s official containment figure remains at 35 percent because some areas within the containment line still have active low-intensity fire while others remain hot to the touch.

The human-caused fire started May 20.

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Category: Environment, News

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About the Author ()

Dan Brekke has worked in media ever since Nixon's first term, when newspapers were still using hot type. He had moved on to online news by the time Bill Clinton met Monica Lewinsky. He's been at KQED since 2007, is an enthusiastic practitioner of radio and online journalism and will talk to you about absolutely anything. Reach Dan Brekke at dbrekke@kqed.org.

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