California

Bridge fire 85 percent contained

A vehicle apparently sparked the 300-acre blaze near the Ponderosa Basin area of Mariposa County, the state Department of Fire and Forestry Protection said Tuesday.

The wildfire erupted Friday afternoon near the William Sell Bridge over the Chowchilla River Canyon – about a 15-minute drive northwest of Oakhurst – forcing numerous road closures and evacuations from more than 700 homes.

The fire was about 85 percent contained Tuesday, with full containment expected sometime Thursday, according to Cal Fire.

“Areas outside the control lines will be closely monitored for any new spot fires. The crews will continue mopping up and looking for hot spots within containment lines,” Cal Fire said in a news release. “Interior portions of the fire will continue to burn and may produce smoke.”

Two firefighters have suffered unspecified minor injuries battling the flames, Cal Fire spokeswoman Karen Guillemin-Kanawyer reported.

Officials with Cal Fire, Mariposa County Fire Department, Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department and the California Highway Patrol are coordinating efforts to combat the fire.

Guillemin-Kanawyer said she could not say exactly how a vehicle caused the fire but that the blaze is not considered suspicious. She did say hot vehicles parked on the side of a road in tall, dry grass is “a common cause” of wildfires in dry conditions.

“We’re really urging the public to be cautious any time they use any equipment that heats up or that can spark,” Guillemin-Kanawyer said. “It’s still very hot, it’s still very dry and the probability of ignition is still very high around dry vegetation.”

Guillemin-Kanawyer said fire danger is not limited to wildland areas, but can cause problems in cities as well. “Vacant lots, vacant buildings are also very dry and can ignite,” she said. “That’s why we’re really emphasizing caution when using equipment. One less spark is one less fire.”

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