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About 400 people fight Mariposa fires

A small army of firefighters on land and in the air continue today to battle the lightening-caused fires that have consumed more than 1,500 acres across southern Mariposa County in the Sierra National Forest.

No injuries have been reported, and although about 150 structures are being threatened, mainly in the Ponderosa Basin area, no structures have been damaged, said Trudy Tucker, a public affairs specialist for the Bass Lake Ranger station.

The fires were ignited Saturday during a thunderstorm that sparked more than a dozen lightening strikes in the Sierra National Forest. They include the Oliver fire near Ponderosa Basin, which has burned about 1,000 acres; the Silver Knob fire near Cedar Brook, which has burned about 400 acres; and the Westfall fire near Fish Camp, which has burned about 50 acres.

Winds were light on Monday, allowing firefighters to make good progress on all of the fires, Tucker said.

And while the Westfall fire has been reported about 50 percent contained and the Silver Knob fire about 10 percent contained, containment for all the fires involved is not expected until Monday, Tucker said.

Meantime, she said, firefighters and equipment include 11 crews made up of 20 people each; 50 engines; two helicopters, two air tankers; one air attack (spotter); and eight dozers.

"We're talking about 400 people assigned to the operation," Tucker said.

The Mariposa County Sheriff's Department made some pre-evacuation notifications on Monday, and other residents were put on alert Monday night, but no mandatory evacuations have been made, Tucker said.

All roads and trails in the area are open, with the exception of Chowchilla Mountain Road, which is open to residents only. That road is closed from Wawona to Ponderosa Basin.

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