Madera County wildfire prompts evacuations, threatens homes

ByKate Valentine via KFSN logo
Monday, September 15, 2014
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The Courtney Fire in Madera County has burned several homes and destroyed three water wells serving the area.

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. -- Some 600 people living the Bass Lake Heights community remain evacuated due to a wildfire, fire officials said.

On Monday, the evacuation order was lifted for residents along Road 426 at Courtney Lane and Road 426 at Suncrest Drive and all adjoining roads.

The so-called Courtney Fire, which started on Courtney Lane and Seven Hills Road in Oakhurst just before 2 p.m. Sunday, has grown to 320 acres and is now 35 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

Approximately 650 firefighters continue battling the flames, while aircraft have been dropping fire retardant to stop the fire from spreading.

PHOTOS: Wildfire breaks out in Oakhurst and Bass Lake

Fire officials say 33 homes have been destroyed and another four have been damaged. There is still a continued threat to the Bass Lake Heights area.

The flames have also destroyed three water wells serving the area. The Bass Lake Heights Mutual Water Company says right now there is no water, and they aren't sure when the system will be repaired.

Gov. Jerry Brown has secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from FEMA to help fund firefighting efforts.

On Sunday, Cal Fire said the wildfire was caused by someone. Whether that was an accident or on purpose is still under investigation.

One firefighter was injured while battling the blaze. Action News has learned it was for smoke inhalation and it was minor.

VIDEO: Courtney Fire evacuees discuss ordeal

RAW VIDEO: A Bass Lake home owner watches his neighbor's house go up in flames from his front porch

RAW VIDEO: A Bass Lake homeowner walks a dirt road back to his home during the Courtney Fire

Current Situation:

Firefighters are continuing to build and reinforce containment lines. There continues to be a threat to the Bass Lake Heights community. Access to the fire is difficult due to steep terrain and several structures in the Wildland Urban Interface. Firefighters are experiencing extreme fire behavior conditions due to drought and low fuel moisture.

Structures destroyed/damaged:

  • 33 residences destroyed
  • 4 residences damaged
  • 28 outbuildings destroyed
  • 6 outbuildings damaged
  • 13 vehicles destroyed
  • 2 vehicles damaged
  • 4 recreational vehicles destroyed

School closures:

  • Yosemite High School
  • Ahwahnee High School
  • Campbell High Community Day
  • Evergreen High School in Oakhurst
  • Wasuma Elementary
  • Oakhurst Elementary
  • Oak Creek Intermediate schools

Residents can call (209) 966-4784 for updates on the fire, their homes, and property.

Road closures:

- Road 426 between Suncrest Drive and Road 223

- Road 222 between Road 432 (Recreation Point) and Road 426

- Road 426 between Road 222 and Road 223

- Road 426 between Courtney Lane and Road 426 at Suncrest Drive is open to residents only

Red Cross shelter set up for evacuees:

- Oakhurst Community Center, 39800 Fresno Flats Road (OK to bring pets)

People evacuating large animals are advised to take them to the Coarsegold Rodeo Grounds, located off Road 415 just south of Coarsegold School. For more information, call (559) 760-5577.