Update: Sierra fire in Mariposa County grows to 1,600 acres

The Fresno BeeJune 16, 2013 

Update: The Carstens fire in Mariposa County has grown to 1,600 acres, and evacuation orders are in place for 1,500 structures, the U.S. Forest Service said Monday night.

Immediate evacuations are in effect for residents of the Lushmeadows community and residents in an area from Darrah Road to Valley View Road and from Triangle Road to Triangle Park Road, the Forest Service said.

Some 150 structures are threatened. Containment lines have been built around 15% of the fire, fire officials said.


Update: The Carstens fire has burned 900 acres and is 15% contained, Cal Fire reported Monday morning. About 150 structures are threatened. More than 700 personnel has been assigned to the blaze.

The Carstens fire is exhibiting "extreme" behavior, Cal Fire said in its 10:30 a.m. report. "The biggest challenges will be the predicted low relative humidity and windy conditions."

Update: The Rolling fire near highways 41 and 145 was 80% contained Monday morning, Cal Fire reported. Cal Fire also reduced the amount of acreage burned to 482.

Original story: Two separate fires ignited Sunday in the foothills of Madera and Mariposa counties, each burning more than 1,000 acres and forcing residents out of their homes, Cal Fire said.

The first fire ignited about 2:10 p.m. off of Carstens Road, east of Highway 140 near Midpines in the Sierra National Forest. The Carstens fire, as it is called by Cal Fire, quickly grew to more than 1,000 acres due to steady winds and dry grass.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for residents in the Hites Cove area, while evacuation warnings were still in place for those living in Clarks Valley and on the Jerseydale side of Triangle Road, Cal Fire dispatcher Sean Bowe said.

According to the Red Cross, an evacuation center has been set up at Mariposa Elementary School in Mariposa to accommodate residents of the 500 homes threatened by the fire, said Ellen Knapp, CEO of the local American Red Cross chapter.

A fire command post has been set up near Darrah at the intersection of Triangle and Jerseydale roads east of Mariposa.

A second fire ignited just after 6 p.m. near Highways 41 and 145 in the area of the popular 22-Mile House gas station in Madera County, en route to Yosemite National Park. As of 7:30 p.m., the blaze -- called the Rolling fire -- had consumed more than 1,000 acres and threatened to grow as large as 4,000 acres, Bowe said. He said the fire is 25% contained.

One hay barn and two large stacks of hay were lost to the fire.

Aircraft were being used Sunday to attack both fires.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Bagnall said winds are forecast to continue at 10 to 20 mph for the Valley over the next few days. Bagnall said the local topography of the fires make it difficult for firefighters to predict winds because of many small canyons, valleys and rifts.

About 80 firefighters from Fresno County Cal Fire were sent to help put out the two blazes, Cal Fire Capt. Ryan Michaels said.

Madera County grassfire Sunday afternoon
(reader video provided by Benjamin Tuggy)

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6165 or amoreno@fresnobee.com.

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