FRESNO, California. (KGPE) – Hot and dry conditions Saturday caused yet another major wildfire at Woodward Park in about a month.
Around 1:15 pm, the fire broke out and quickly spread to over 60 acres. Fire authorities on scene say the fire began along the San Joaquin River in the park.
A battalion chief with the Fresno Fire Department says 80 firefighters from multiple agencies responded including Cal Fire and Clovis Fire Department, and two firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Additionally, firefighters say 10 homes in Woodward Lakes north of Champlain Dr. and Friant Rd. were briefly evacuated due to smoke and the threat of embers blowing into the neighborhood.
“We were able to do a significant job on it to prevent any structures from being burnt,” said Devin McGuire, battalion chief with the Fresno Fire Department. “We did have some structures to the northeast that we had some concern about early on.”
Friant Rd. was eventually shut down from Fort Washington to Lakeview Dr. as crews battled the flames and reopened later in the evening. Local residents who stopped to look at the blaze were stunned.
“We actually saw a huge plume of smoke, a really big plume,” said Clovis resident Rick Ragsdale. “And we’re kind of getting used to those in this area. We drove up upon it and, wow!”
Fire officials say when wildfires break out in heavily populated areas, especially when fueled by dry grass like in Woodward Park, people should keep moving and don’t stop and watch.
“The fire moves so fast in light flashy fuels like this,” McGuire said. “So any time people see fires in light flashy fuels they need to get away, get to a safe location.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.