Firefighters battle fast-moving wildfire near Pine Flat Lake


A plane drops fire retardant on the ‘Slope Fire’ burning near Pine Flat Lake. (Photo: Fred Schneider.)

FRESNO COUNTY, California. (KGPE) – Pine Flat Lake goers came face-to-face with a fast-moving brush fire Monday. The flames forced evacuations and road closures.

By the evening, it was 30 acres and 20% contained. Crews expected full containment sometime Tuesday.

“I could see it breaking out and it was just a small fire. By the time I tied my boat up and was off the dock, it was half the hillside,” visitor Peter Medina said.

The fast-moving wildfire dubbed the ‘Slope Fire’ is burning in the area of Trimmer Springs and Sunnyslope Roads.

“While I was out here there were rocks on fire trees were catching fire and falling over. There was black smoke, everywhere was black. It looked like the sun was blocked out,” Nathaniel Vasquez said.

He and his family watched as the fire erupted to about 30 acres near the marina. The flames quickly spread through the dry grass, threatening an estimated 5 to 10 homes.

About 10 to 20 residents were evacuated while crews worked to get a handle on the situation, all while braving triple-digit temperatures.

“We train in the heat. We try to acclimate our bodies and we work in the heat but it’s always a challenge. The firefighters are out here today with full gear on, 30 to 40-pound backpacks,” Seth Brown a Cal Fire battalion chief said.

Brown said the holiday traffic delayed crews slightly but air attacks were helpful, with fire retardant tankers and water-dropping helicopters. He said they were able to utilize the lake right beside them.

“We were excited when they came in. We were actually cheering for them,” Aubrey Vasquez said.

Hand crews were flown in, with more than 50 firefighters responding.

Brown says they are still assessing if there are any damages to homes in the area. The cause is still under investigation.

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July 23 2021 05:30 pm

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