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Wednesday Update: Detwiler Fire Prompts New Evacuations

Merched County Sheriff's Office / AP

Merced and Mariposa County Sheriff's Office members attend a briefing during a wildfire in Mariposa County, Calif., Tuesday, July 18, 2017.

Merched County Sheriff's Office / AP

UPDATE 9:55 P.M.: (AP) -- California fire officials say 29 structures have been destroyed by a blaze burning in the rugged mountains outside of Yosemite National Park.

It is not clear how many of those structures are homes.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the fire on Wednesday also grew to 48,000 acres. Containment remains at 7 percent.

More than 3,000 firefighters are fighting the 4-day-old wildfire, which is about 35 miles west of Yosemite.

California fire spokesman Jordan Motta says the wildfire is moving south, away from Yosemite.

The park remained opened Wednesday.

UPDATE 3:00 P.M.: The Detwiler Fire in Mariposa County continues to grow. It has burned 45,724 acres and is just 7 percent contained.

Scott McClean with CAL FIRE says there are several components to fighting a wildfire like the Detwiler. 

"You have your aircraft, sure the drops of retardent, that actually in some cases actually steer a fire to a certain degree. You have your dozers," he says. "You have your inmate crews. You have your engine crews. It's the ground pounders on the ground that need to work with those airdrops , for one example, to beef them up, to get in there and get the fight done."

McClean also says the flames are burning in areas that are very dry despite the wet winter.

"Add the topography, add the heat, add the very low humidity in those areas, this is definitely a topography and fuel driven fire," says McClean.

The fire has forced about 5,000 people from their homes. The town of Mariposa was evacuated Tuesday and residents of Coulterville and Greeley Hill were told to leave their homes Wednesday.

The fire jumped the Merced River Tuesday and has raced past several containment lines.

There are 2,200 people helping fight the fire, the number of personnel doubled from yesterday.

UPDATE 12:32 P.M.: The Mariposa County Sherrif's Office has issued an evacuation order for the town of Coulterville. 

The evacuatino area includes Highway 132 from 49 North to Windy Point, and 49 North to Oakridge Road.

A Red Cross Shelter Evacuation and small animal shelter is located at the Sonora Fair Grounds 220 Southgate Rd in Sonora.

ORIGINAL: The Detwiler Fire burning in the rugged mountains of Mariposa County outside of Yosemite National Park has scorched 45,724 acres and is 7 percent contained. 

CAL FIRE says the fire is moving four to six miles per day through grass brush, trees and hilly terrain.

It has destroyed eight structures and damaged another as it rages toward a Gold Rush era town.

More than a dozen aircrafts are being used in fighting the fire. No firefighter injuries have been reported.

Evacuation orders are still in effect. 

Capital Public Radio Staff


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