The Detwiler Fire continues its tear through Mariposa County, now burning at 48,000 acres. Fire officials say seven percent of the wildfire is contained but 29 strucutres are now destroyed and 1,500 more structures are threatened.
More than 3,000 firefighters are working together to contain the Detwiler Fire. Crews attacked the flames through rough terrain but an orange glow of smoke still remains, a reminder that the fight is far from over.
Persistence is key as air tankers drop retardant on the Detwiler Fire. Meanwhile, helicopters circle the area, hitting flames with water over and over. Somewhere through all the fire and smoke, one dozer operator is the husband of Crystal Pearson. She returned to downtown Mariposa on Wednesday. Just the day before, her pizza shop had no power but Pearson isn’t concerned about her business. She’s constantly checking in with her husband.
“Your husband can’t do much because he’s out there trying to save everybody else’s house so that’s hard,” said Pearson.
Minutes away at the Mariposa County Fairgrounds is where Cal Fire and PG&E share a command post. Officials say steep and inaccessible terrain challenges crews while the fire threatens power lines to the South, which supply power to Yosemite National Park.
“It’s moving so fast that every time we put something out in front of it, it’s already past that area so it’s kind of keeping up with the fire at this point,” said Jordan Motta with Cal Fire.
Motta says the combination of dry brush from years of drought and heavy winter rainfall are fuel for fast flames.
“So we have very tall, very thick grass crop that now that it’s summer, it’s very dry,” said Motta.
Mariposa remains on mandatory evacuation. Pearson says she feels for evacuees after losing her home to a fire two years ago.
“It’s kind of emotional and I’d hate to see this whole town burn down,” said Pearson.
Firefighters from across the state are trying to prevent that as the town waits for its residents to return.
“There’s just like nobody here and it’s going to take a while for people to start getting back in the routine of things,” said Pearson.
There are five evacuations centers open. Three of them are in Oakhurst, one in Planada and another in Sonora. Contact Red Cross for more details.