Local

Motor Fire grows to 4,755 acres; 2 schools cancelled

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Motor Fire has grown to more than 4,700 acres. Officials have closed a portion of Highway 140 -- between Midpines and Yosemite. People living in El Portal are being told to prepare for evacuations -- although no evacuations have been issued there.

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Authorities say air attacks are still the best asset fire crews have for controling the growth of the fire. Most of the flames moved over the mountain ridges, Sunday night, and out of the Merced River Canyon. Fire crews say they have hose lines layed out in the Rancheria Flats and El Portal neighborhoods hoping to protect homes and businesses.

Evacuations are in effect for people living in the Rancheria Flats community and the nearby El Portal Trailer Park. The Red Cross is helping those displaced find alternate housing.

This has been a very difficult fire for firefighters to fight because it's burning on mountain tops with limited access. So firefighters are battling the blaze from both the ground and air.

Nearly a dozen helicopters will be back in the air Monday - dropping flame retardant on the Motor Fire.

"Air support has been instrumental in helping ground crews out," said Michelle Smith with the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire has burned more than 4,700 acres and is just 35-percent contained. On Sunday - fire officials said it was spreading toward nearby Trumball Peak, threatening a historic fire lookout tower.

A DC-10 aircraft was dispatched in the afternoon and made multiple drops on the fire's eastern edge. This as firefighters strung hoses up hills and along streets in the El Portal area - building a line throughout the night and taking advantage of higher humidity levels.

70 homes and two campgrounds were ordered to be evacuated as the fire spread outside Yosemite National Park.

"I think we're all okay. It's just waiting and people worried about their pets and things like that. But I think overall everyone's going to be okay," said Dan Seal of Rancheria Flats.

Because of the fire, the Mariposa County Unified School District has canceled classes at two schools Monday. Both El Portal Elementary and Yosemite Park High School will be closed.

Because of the steep rugged terrain, air attacks are the best asset fire crews have for controlling the growth of the fire.

Firefighters are hoping to have it under control by September 9th.

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Flames aren't the only threat firefighters are facing. The hot temperatures pose another threat, of heat exhaustion.

More than 800 firefighters are now battling the Motor Fire. With a string of blistering temperatures in the 90 and 100s, they are all at risk. So far two firefighters have reported heat stress.

"Even the best firefighters, in the best shape, you can have a bad day. You don't drink enough water, you don't eat enough breakfast or calorie intake to maintain the energy level that you need, you are going to suffer from the heat," said Dustin Hail with Cal Fire.

To avoid heat exhaustion, medics are on hand to treat firefighters. Firefighters also trade in and out on the front lines to prevent overheating.

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Mariposa County Unified School District
Due to the fire in El Portal, MCUSD has cancelled school for El Portal Elementary and Yosemite Park High School Monday August 29, 2011.

All other school sites will be in session. Route L will be pickiing up students in Yosemite via Oakhurst.

All EP students that attend a school that will be open (MMS & MCHS) may catch Route L at Yosemite Valley Elementary at 6:25 a.m.

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Motor Fire Basic Information

Information lines:
(209) 372- 0372
(209) 372- 0379

DC-10 was used to support direct line efforts on the west side of the fire, good progress was made with Type one hand crews during the operational period. Local Law enforcement recommend procationary measures. Stay away from Hwy 140 heading to Yosemite National Park.

A resource center is open at the Lutheran Church in Mariposa, California. The address is 4469 Highway 49 South Mariposa, California. The center hours are 8:00 am  9:00 pm

Size: 4,755 acres

Percent Contained: 35%

Estimated Containment Date: Friday September 09th, 2011 approx. 12:00 AM

Mandatory evacuations:: Rancheria, Cedar Lodge, Incline, El Portal Trailer Village and local Merced River Canyon Campgrounds.

Mandatory Road Closures: Highway 140, from the Foresta Bridge west is closed, Incline Road, and Forest Rd 1S12. There is no estimation as to when the will re-open. Old El Portal is advised to prepare for evacuations, this is a pre-evacuation.

Cause: Motor Home Fire

Date of Origin: Thursday August 25th, 2011 approx. 12:30 PM

Location: Merced River Canyon

Total Personnel: 818

Fire Behavior: Active fire continues to move east into Moss Canyon. Low to moderate fire activity on the west flank of the fire; some roll out across the containment line produced an area of active fire on the norht west side of the fire. South of the Merced River showed little to moderate activity throughout the day Sunday.

Planned Actions:Crews continue to construct line on the east side of the fire. The use of a DC-10 airtanker supported this operation, crews will reinforce retardant lines.

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Tags:
widlfire, el portal, fire, yosemite national park, local, rick montanez
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