MERCED, Calif. — Cal Fire, Mariposa Sheriff’s Department and other agencies provided answers and some hope for residents at their community meeting in Merced on Thursday night.
The Mariposa Sheriff told residents in Mariposa proper that they will be able to return home as early as Friday. He said as long as nothing major happens with the fire overnight, residents can be at home.
He said this next step is thanks to the hard work from firefighters on the front lines.
Crews work out of their mobile command center in Merced.
“We have about 4,000 people here. This is a city on wheels,” said Koby Johns, Fresno Fire Captain/Detwiler Public information officer.
From printing stations to mobile copy units, crews print thousands of maps to distribute to crews on the ground.
Officials said as the fire grows, so does base camp. Officials said more help has come including crews from all over the country.
“We have a lot of crews coming from one fire and then coming to this one we have people that this is their 30th day in row,” said Koby Johns.
To reassure evacuees, Cal Fire commanders relayed the latest to evacuees at their Merced Community Meeting.
“Your firefighters are out their doing everything they can,” said Cal Fire officials.
They said the West Side is doing well, along with Mariposa. Crews said their fire lines have been holding up but they have a long way to go, especially in the East.
The fire also recently jumped the Merced River. Crews said the blaze has doubled in size nearly everyday since Sunday.
“On the second day the fire added 40,000 acres. That is not the way fires are meant to move, that is not what we are used to,” said Cal Fire officials.
Crews said despite the growing size, they are not stopping because they know what is at stake.
“We can’t get complacent,” said Cal Fire.
Cal Fire officials said the biggest challenges they are facing with this fire are the changing winds and battling through the terrain of the area.