Local

"Motor Fire" burns more than 1,000 acres

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Motor Fire has burned more than 1,000 acres in the mountains near Yosemite National Park. The fire is burning both sides of the canyon that surrounds Highway 140 west of El Portal in Mariposa County.

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Motor Fire Information
Location: Merced River Canyon
Acres burned: Over 1,000
Structures threatened: 70, 35 out buildings

Evacuations and Road Closures:
Cedar lodge, Incline and local Merced River Canyon Campgrounds were voluntarily evacuated. Rancheria, Old El Portal, and Yosemite West have been advised to prepare for evacuations. Highway 140, from the Foresta Bridge west is closed. There is no estimation as to when Hwy. 140 will re-open.

Total Personnel: 1,162

Planned Actions:
Air tankers, Helicopter types 1&2,Dozers, Hotshot Crews, Type 1,3&6 engines. The Central Sierra Type two Incident Management Team will be on scene Aug. 26 to take command of the fire response efforts. Additional fire resources have been ordered.

Local Law enforcement recommend procationary measures. Stay away from Hwy 140 heading to Yosemite National Park. Residence south of the Yosemite maintenance station are being evacuated.
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70 structures, including homes and businesses, are being threatened by the fire, as well as 35 outbuildings. Those areas have been evacuated.

As night fell over the mountains near Yosemite Thursday, the Motor Fire continued to burn up the hillside. Flames burned close to the road in many areas.

The fire began on the south side of the canyon. The California Highway Patrol said an RV caught fire and exploded just sometime between noon and 1pm.

The explosion sent flames into the brush. The fire quickly jumped the Merced River and began burning up the steep hills.

"That makes it more difficult, some of the areas that are currently burning are not accessible by road," said Sierra National Forest spokesperson Rebecca Garcia.

As many as six helicopters scooped up water from the Merced River to drop on the fire.

Flames crept close to the Cedar Lodge, where more than 300 tourists had to be evacuated. Hand crews tried to build a fire line around the lodge, but they were forced out when the fire grew too close. The CHP escorted several families back to their rooms to gather their stuff.

Gerard Vantonder and his family are visiting from the UK, they made a mad dash to their rooms to pack their belongings. "The highway patrol said we have relatively short time to do it, so we're at it," he said.

A North Carolina couple's plans were also ruined by the fire. "[I'm] very disappointed, we're only here for a couple of days," said Lynn Greene. "We may not make it in [to Yosemite] after all," said Arnold Greene.

There is a power outage in Yosemite West and El Portal, those areas have not been evacuated. Fire crews say power could be restored Friday, if conditions permit.

An incident command team is meeting at 10 Friday morning to regroup. At that time more evacuations could be ordered.

Stay with ABC30 and ABC30.COM for updated information.

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Tags:
widlfire, el portal, yosemite national park, mariposa county, local
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