Detwiler Fire spreads quickly, causes evacuation of Mariposa

map of Detwiler Fire

Above: Map of the Detwiler Fire. The yellow line was the perimeter at 1 a.m. PDT Tuesday July 18, 2017. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 1:48 p.m. PDT July 18. The satellite detections can’t be relied upon to be 100 percent accurate. The very intense smoke plume over the fire on Tuesday may have contained enough heat to trip the sensors on the satellite, giving the impression that the fire was larger than it actually was. 

(UPDATED at 9:13 p.m. PDT July 18, 2017)

(All articles on Wildfire Today about the Detwiler Fire are tagged “Detwiler Fire” and can be found here, with the most recent at the top.)

The Detwiler Fire continued to be very active Tuesday afternoon. CAL FIRE, the agency responsible for suppressing the blaze, estimated at 7 p.m. that the size had increased to about 25,000 acres, up from 19,601 at 1 a.m. on Tuesday. They reported that 8 structures have been destroyed, but did not specify if they were residences or outbuildings.

The CAL FIRE web site sometimes has information about evacuations.

The fire spread to the south Tuesday, pushed by a wind out of the north. Winds from the north are expected to continue through the night and into Wednesday morning at 6 to 9 mph, shifting to come out of the west in the afternoon. Wednesday’s temperature in the fire area will top out at 98 degrees, with the relative humidity hitting 14 percent in the afternoon.

(UPDATED at 5:34 p.m. PDT July 18, 2017)

The Detwiler Fire has been very, very active Tuesday afternoon, spreading very quickly and putting up a huge smoke plume. For a while at mid-afternoon at least one air tanker working the fire, a DC-10, was diverted to a new fire 6 miles southeast of Redding. During that time the KCRA live video did not show any air tankers on the Detwiler Fire, but after a while there were two DC-10s, an MD-87, a C-130, and at least one S2T working the fire again.

The camera operator for KCRA has no trouble finding action to film — air tankers dropping, massive flames, or a towering convection column.

Detwiler Fire satellite photo
Satellite photo of the Detwiler Fire, the afternoon of July 18, 2017. NASA.
Erickson Aero Tanker DC-7
An Erickson Aero Tanker DC-7 dropping on the Detwiller Fire the afternoon of July 18, 2017. Screenshot from KCRA video.

(UPDATED at 1:24 p.m. PDT July 18, 2017)

The Detwiler Fire has grown explosively since it started less than 48 hours ago during the afternoon of July 16. At 1 a.m. PDT on July 18 it was mapped at 19,610 acres, an increase of 16,192 acres over the previous 24 hours.

The fire is 6 miles northwest of Mariposa.

The maps of the Detwiler Fire below were current at 1 a.m. PDT July 18, 2017.

Detwiler Fire
3-D Map of the Detwiler Fire looking southeast, Data from 1 a.m. PDT July 18, 2017.

It is already causing evacuations in areas of Mariposa County, according to the Sheriff’s office. At 12:30 p.m. PDT Tuesday CAL FIRE revised their information about the fire to indicate that the city of Mariposa is being evacuated, but by 1:18 p.m. PDT the Sheriff’s Office had not stated it like that on their web site. However, the Sheriff’s site lists about 19 locations that ARE evacuated, without providing a map, so it can be a little difficult to get the entire picture.

Highway 49 is closed. Power lines that supply electricity to Yosemite National Park, which is 19 air miles to the east, could be impacted.

The time-lapse video below was filmed by Toney Gorham between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. on Sunday July 16.

Detwiler Fire
Map of the Detwiler Fire at 1 a.m. PDT July 18, 2017.
Detwiler Fire satellite photo smoke
Smoke from the Detwiler Fire as seen by a NASA satellite July 17, 2017.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to JW.
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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

2 thoughts on “Detwiler Fire spreads quickly, causes evacuation of Mariposa”

  1. Thank You to ever fire fighter on the lines fighting fires. Detwiler Mariposa Ca fire fighters we pray for you.

  2. 10 Tanker tweeted this morning that Tanker 911 set a company record yesterday flying 10 missions in less than 6 hours on the Detwiler fire. I assume this was partly because they were flying out of Castle AFB which is very near by.


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