CAL FIRE crews burn more than 100 acres near Highway 41, as part of plan to prevent wildfires

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CAL FIRE crews lighting off prescribed burns near the Coarsegold area, along Highway 41. 

Crews starting near Road 200, down to Highway 145, continuing through Thursday, from Highway 145, all the way to the Madera canal. 

The burns meant to stop fire and save money, and hopefully, make this fire season less catastrophic.

As cars zoom by below, fire rages on the east side of Highway 41, at Road 406, south of Coarsegold.

CAL FIRE crews, tools in hand, turning an 11-mile stretch along the golden hillsides bright red, with flame.

104 acres.

“We produce a controlled environment with the fire, where we’re capable of suppressing anytime if something changes, like weather or smoke direction into traffic,” CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Shaun Fairbanks said.

Officials say, they see more than a dozen fires along the 41 each year.

Controlled burns used to be done in the past. 

Now, the areas left susceptible, sometimes, to human error.

“So, for people that are dragging chains, hooking their trailers up wrong, catalytic converters, other ways of vehicles starting fire along the highway,” Fairbanks said.

Like 2018’s deadly Carr Fire, which left seven dead, becoming one of the worst wildfires the state’s ever had, in the worst fire season, in state history.

April, Governor Gavin Newsom pushing for 35 fuel management projects, to help protect those living in areas vulnerable to wildfire.

Among them, the vegetation along Highway 41.

“We’re working with Caltrans, CHP,” Fairbanks said. 

Tuesday, a multi-agency effort.

“It protects the communities of O’Neals, Hidden Lakes, and also the range land that’s important to these local ranchers.”

Permission from landowners, and a small burden to commuters, having to pause a few minutes in areas where there’s no shoulder to pass. 

“Also alleviates the burden to tax payers, the high cost of fire suppression, and the shutdown of the highway,” Fairbanks said.

Crews do have signage in the area, but want to remind those driving through the next few evenings to take it slow and use caution.

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