Central California Wildfire Forces Evacuations As 19,500 Acres Burn

Clovis Fire Department via Facebook

A Central California wildfire continues to burn, and has consumed over 30 square miles so far.

The blaze, known as the Mineral Fire, was 30 percent contained as of Friday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

The wildfire began Monday, though the cause of the fire remains unknown.

Wildfire Burning Near Coalinga California Forcing Evacuations in Fresno County

It has charred 19,500 acres near Coalinga, California, and is burning in steep, rocky terrain that is difficult to access. According to Cal Fire, containment efforts have been hampered “due to extreme fire behavior which includes rapid uphill and wind driven runs.”

Four structures have been destroyed in the fire, with others threatened — forcing evacuations in Fresno County.

On Wednesday, Cal Fire put out an evacuation order for all residences and businesses within the areas of:

  • The community of Bingham Springs
  • Los Gatos Creek Road from Indian Springs to Union Carbide Road
  • Anyone within the area of Highway 198 from Parsons Road west to the Monterey County line
  • The Monterey-Fresno County Line from Highway 198 north to Coalinga/Los Gatos Creek Road
  • Los Gatos Creek Road east to Parson/Mud Run Road, Mud Run/Parson Road south to Highway 198

State Highway 198 is closed between Firestone Avenue and the Monterey County line.

Additional evacuations are possible in Fresno County, and parts of neighboring Monterey County.

Smoke Posing Additional Risks for Fresno County

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District also issued a “health caution” for Fresno County. Residents are urged to stay indoors, especially those with asthma or other respiratory health issues.

Officials say that as the fire continues to burn, the smoke could also affect Merced, Madera, and Tulare counties.

The National Weather Service said smoke from the fire was visible over the San Francisco Bay area, as well.

“Unfortunately, we’re in California’s dry season,” said Jon Erdman, senior meteorologist for weather.com. “So there’s no rain in store near the fire.”

Several hundred firefighters are currently trying to contain the blaze. As conditions allow, numerous firefighting air tankers from throughout California are flying fire suppression missions.

“The terrain is extremely steep and very difficult to access, so it is challenging for firefighters,” said Jamie Williams with Cal Fire.

The steep and rugged topography, coupled with temperatures in the upper 90s are continuing to prove difficult.

However, Seth Brown, Battalion Chief of Fresno County Cal Fire, is hopeful.

“At the same time the fire is increasing in size, we are gaining ground with increased containment every day,” said Brown.