Firefighters gain on Carstens fire near Mariposa

06/20/2013 8:01 AM

06/20/2013 10:31 PM

Structures and people remain safe, but firefighters at the Carstens fire made their first save, rescuing two baby owls.

According to the Sierra National Forest, a crew in the Buckingham Mountain Area found the baby great horned owls Thursday on the ground next to a fallen tree near where bulldozers were putting in a containment line.

They flagged the site so other crews would avoid it. Later that evening, Anae Otto, a biologist with the forest’s Bass Lake Ranger District, retrieved the owls and took them to a local rehabilitation facility.

The owls are doing well, the Sierra National Forest said in a news release, and they will be returned to their natural habitat when they are healthy enough.

Firefighters continue to make gains against the blaze burning outside of Mariposa, with 60 percent of it contained and more evacuations lifted as of Thursday morning.

According to forest officials, the Carstens Fire has consumed 1,660 acres since an unattended campfire started it Sunday afternoon in the Midpines area.

Many of the areas earlier evacuated — Jerseydale, Mariposa Pines and Triangle and Darrah roads — have been reopened to residents with identification, allowing people to return to their homes. Though the fire hasn’t claimed any structures, it still threatens 50 residences, so evacuations remain in effect for Buckingham Mountain and Carter roads.

The American Red Cross, which had opened an evacuation center, plans to close it Thursday evening.

The north end of the fire has been contained by a combination of hand and dozer lines, and backburn operations are working, officials said.

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