Local

July 24, 2014

Firefighters battling large vegetation fire near Gustine

A large vegetation fire erupted on Merced County’s rural West Side early Thursday afternoon near Gun Club Road and Santa Fe Grade southeast of Gustine, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

A large vegetation fire erupted on Merced County’s rural West Side early Thursday afternoon near Gun Club Road and Santa Fe Grade southeast of Gustine, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Firefighters responded to the scene before 12:30 p.m. As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Cal Fire had reported that around 80 acres had burned, although firefighters said the blaze could grow to 200 acres or larger.

No injuries have been reported, and the cause is unknown.

Although some structures built for duck hunters were threatened by the blaze, no homes have been threatened thus far, according to Division Chief Mark Lawson.

Lawson said suppression crews are expected to remain at the scene throughout the night.

The large fire jumped a canal Thursday afternoon, and Lawson said the tall vegetation in the area has made fighting the intense blaze extremely difficult. “It’s so tall it’s hard to get anybody out there,” Lawson said.

Lawson said another vegetation fire erupted in the same area earlier this week and was started by commercial equipment. Lawson said it’s still too early to tell whether the two fires could be related.

More than 50 firefighters were at the scene of the blaze Thursday afternoon, Lawson said. Los Banos Fire Department and the Department of Fish and Game assisted with the firefighting efforts.

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