In its first five days, the Detwiler Fire in Mariposa County has burned nearly half of the total acreage scorched in the massive Rough Fire of 2015. On Thursday, July 20, at the Cal Fire morning briefing, it was reported that 70,096 acres had been consumed and 45 structures were lost.
Cal Fire information officers won’t say what structures have been burned because hundreds of evacuees won’t know if they have anything left until they are allowed return home following containment. Incident commanders have no idea when that might be. The fire is only 10 percent contained; the cause is under investigation.
At least 1,500 structures in and around the Highway 49 communities of Mariposa and Coulterville remain threatened by the out-of-control flames. The power supply for Yosemite Valley in the national park is also threatened as the transmission lines are in the direct path of the fast-moving blaze.
The Rough Fire consumed more than 150,000 acres and from all appearances the Detwiler Fire will too. Both fires will end up costing many millions. Currently, there are more than 3,100 firefighting personnel on the Mariposa County blaze.
The critical difference between the two disasters is that the Rough Fire (2015) burned in steep forested terrain; the Detwiler Fire (2017) is burning in the lower elevation foothills, threatening thousands of homes, ranch buildings, and livestock.
Local impacts here in Kaweah Country and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks will be poor air quality due to smoke, especially in the daytime hours.
Dozens of fires are burning throughout the western states and in California, and fire season still has the potential for two to three more months of extreme fire danger.
On Tuesday, July 18, a fire of suspicious origin broke out near where Hogback Road (off Hwy. 245) and Whitacre Forest Road intersect in the vicinity of Badger, Hartland, and Pinehurst.
As of Thursday, July 20, that blaze was reported to have burned 58 acres and was 85 percent contained. No structures are threatened.