Fire threatens McSwain area

ModestoJune 21, 2013 

A wildfire threatened about 30 homes in the McSwain area of Merced County on Friday afternoon but firefighters were able to prevent the flames from spreading from the vegetation to the structures.

Battalion Chief Gabriel Santos of the Merced County Fire Department/California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the blaze was contained to about 4 acres near Buhach Road and Moran Avenue.

Santos said equipment being used in the area apparently touched off the wildfire at  the site of a former dairy about 4 p.m. He said the blaze was fed by eucalyptus trees, debris piles, old tires and other items, sending up huge columns of black smoke. Santos said strong winds pushed the fire across the property.

According to Santos, a small creek separates the old dairy from nearby homes. As the fire raced toward the houses, calls for help inundated the Fire Department.

Although the fire managed to jump the creek in spots, Santos said, firefighters were able to put out those flames and prevent the blaze from reaching the homes.

He said it took about 30 minutes to contain the fire, but crews were expected to remain at the scene well into the night.

Santos said the incident should serve as a reminder to people to not use equipment in dry areas after 10 a.m. to reduce the risk of triggering a fire like the one Friday. Fortunately, he said, there were no injuries and no structures were lost.

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