Grass fire grew quick, but crews kept it from getting too big


CAL FIRE battalion chief says air tanker was critical to crews' efforts

CATHEYS VALLEY, California — Fire crews worked fast Saturday to keep a Mariposa County fire under control. The Valley Fire sparked around noon, quickly growing from 5-15 acres to 155 acres.

The fire burned in the area near the 3000 block of Old Highway. As of 10:30 p.m., the fire is 80% contained. CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Danny Suarez credits this to the amount of resources that were readily available to assist in the effort.

Investigators still don’t know what caused the Valley Fire, however they do know it wouldn’t take much. Since we’re deep in the summer, conditions are ripe for a blaze.

“At 12 o’clock in the middle of the day, there’s no moisture in the fields. It would take [something as little] as a cigarette to catch,” Suarez said.

Around 60 personnel responded to help put out the fire — from agencies in Mariposa, Fresno and Calaveras counties.

Terrain and weather were the biggest challenges for crews, however, an air tanker helped keep the fire in check by dropping fire retardant on key spots.

“We don’t normally depend on aircraft, but it was a factor on this fire,” Suarez said. “It helped us contain [the fire] and get the ground crews around it.”

One structure was threatened when calls first came in, according to Suarez, but by early evening that threat was extinguished. No one got hurt, either.

Suarez expects the fire to be fully contained overnight. A crew will be sent to take over Monday morning for good measure — also to mop up any hotspots remaining.

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