100-acre fire destroys outbuilding near Copperopolis in Calaveras County

More than 300 firefighters are working to tame a 100-acre fire that threatened homes and forced an evacuation near Copperopolis in Calaveras County.

First spotted at 12:37 p.m. Sunday, the fire along Oak Valley Road was 50 percent contained by 6:45 p.m., said CAL FIRE information officer Nancy Longmore. Residents of Riata Way were evacuated and offered shelter at Copperopolis Elementary School. CAL FIRE spokeswoman Lynn Tomachoff said one outbuilding - a detached structure such as a garage or a shed - was destroyed, but no other property losses have been confirmed.

Longmore said the blaze, called the Oak Fire, no longer threatens homes and that the evacuation order has been lifted.

Firefighters have not identified the cause and could not estimate how long it would take to get the fire fully under control, Longmore said. One compounding factor, however, was the drought that has already given rise to at least 2,000 significant fires this year.

“We got enough rain last spring to grow a great crop of crass, but not enough to rehydrate the trees and brush,” Longmore said. “They are extremely dry and that’s why we’re seeing fires taking off.”

Longmore said homeowners should take care to minimize vegetation surrounding their homes.

“Everybody likes privacy, but when a fire comes through and burns down all the brush around your home, you’re not going to have any privacy,” Longmore said. “You’ll be lucky to have a home.”