Fire west of Pincrest doubles in size

pguerra@modbee.com.August 6, 2013 

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— A fire north of Pinecrest nearly doubled in size within 24 hours, and authorities say the rough, steep terrain is hindering efforts to fight it.

The Power fire broke out early Monday in the Stanislaus National Forest along Beardsley Lake. A cabin owner in the area saw the fire and reported it about 6 a.m., said Jerry Snyder, forest public affairs officer.

As of Tuesday night, the fire had consumed 500 acres and was 12 percent contained. A team from Southern California with specialized equipment was headed north to take over coordinating efforts.

"It is on the southeastern slope that's very, very steep," Snyder said. "Where the fire started is 3,800 feet. Up Highway 108 is about 6,000 feet. That is a very steep climb up there."

Two firefighters have suffered minor injuries. One was a dislocated shoulder, Snyder said. He did not have details on the other injury.

Separately, a fire engine suffered major damage when a large oak tree fell on it about 10 a.m. Monday. Firefighters were laying hose and were not in the area at the time, Snyder said.

As of Tuesday night, 12 hand crews, seven helicopters, 10 engines, three bulldozers, five Helitak teams and seven fixed-wing aircraft were involved in fighting the fire. Personnel assigned to the fire stood at 365.

Complicating matters is that a lot of the people and equipment that normally would be deployed had been sent to fight other fires. Snyder himself returned Monday night from the Aspen fire in Fresno County.

"Getting those back could be difficult," Snyder said.

No evacuations have been ordered, and the roads remain open. But Snyder said authorities are cautioning residents that their homes could be threatened and are trying to keep everyone informed as the fire progresses. Roads could be closed short term, either to move equipment or allow firefighters to set up operations.

And smoke is wafting over much of the area, including Pinecrest lake.

"The smoke could be intense at times," Snyder said. "Some of the campgrounds and recreation sites up Highway 108 will be impacted with smoke."

The cause of the fire has not been determined and remains under investigation.

Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.

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