BRICEBURG, California (KSEE/KGPE) — Crews continue to gain the upper hand in their battle with the Briceburg Fire burning west of Yosemite National Park, Cal Fire announced Sunday morning.
The state fire agency said the blaze has burned 5,563 acres and is 63% contained.
Minimal fire activity was reported overnight, Cal Fire said. Firefighters will continue the construction of containment lines and mop-up of at least 200 feet.
Miles of dozer lines, hand lines, safety zones, staging areas and drop points have been built to support firefighting efforts, and now these areas need to be put back into a pre-fire condition.
Jaime Williams, Cal Fire spokeswoman, said the objective of suppression repair is to place areas disturbed by fire suppression activities into a condition that will not negatively affect natural and cultural resources and not contribute to excessive erosion on the landscape or sediment delivery to the watercourses.
The repairs include installing water diversion features on fire control lines to prevent future erosion. Natural debris, like branches and brush, help blend these lines into the surroundings and unburned soils are put back
into place to provide a seedbed for native plants to re-establish themselves.
Williams said without rehabilitation, these containment lines can cause erosion scars, mudslides and provide growing space for non-native species.
Much of the work is completed using the same crews and equipment that build the fire lines. Hand crews sometimes rehabilitate the same hand lines they constructed to battle the flames. Excavators and other heavy equipment add logs, boulders, water diversion bars and topsoil to larger disturbed areas.
Smoke will continue to be visible within the fire’s perimeter for potentially several weeks.
Officials say that the smoke is not a concern as fire crews will be actively patrolling the area for any hot spots.
Cal Fire estimates the fire will be fully contained by Monday, October 21.
Only one structure remains destroyed in the blaze.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
A total of 1,160 personnel are battling the Briceburg fire and consists of 104 engines, 24 water tenders, seven helicopters, 30 hand crews, and 11 dozers.
Caltrans said Highway 140 remains closed to all travelers and residents 15 miles east of Mariposa at the top of the Briceburg Grade to Savage’s Trading Post. Buffalo Gulch Road is open to residents only.
Access to Yosemite National Park at El Portal remains closed because of the brush fire. Visitors can enter the park through Highway 41 and Highway 120.