Firefighters make progress containing fire near Yosemite after structure destroyed

The wildfire near Yosemite National Park that remains the largest active fire in the state has burned 4,905 acres and destroyed one structure, according to Cal Fire on Friday morning.

But firefighters are making headway on containing the Briceburg Fire, which has shut down Highway 140, stranding Yosemite tourists and hurting local business.

The fire was about 30% contained Friday morning. Crews would begin mop-up operations Friday, according to a Cal Fire update.

Cal Fire officials Thursday afternoon declined to release information on the structure that was destroyed in the fire.

The fire started at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday near the Briceburg Road bridge on Highway 140. The fire quickly swelled Monday and Tuesday to more than 3,000 acres, moving generally in a south-southeast direction.

Vikaas Shanker

The Briceburg Fire was particularly concerning because it happened in an area that hadn’t burned for a long time, Cal Fire incident spokesperson Emily Kilgore said. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.

Existing mandatory evacuation orders were still in effect Thursday for addresses on Highway 140 between Octagon Road and Buffalo Gulch, any homes or camps on Buffalo Gulch Road, Bug Hostel and Briceburg Campground. Mandatory evacuations previously were ordered for three homes near the fire, Briceburg Information Center and the McCabe Flat Campground.

An evacuation center had been set up at New Life Christian Fellowship, located at 5089 Cole Road in Mariposa. But the Red Cross placed the location on standby after none of the roughly 130 people who were evacuated sought assistance, officials said.

A small animal evacuation center set up by the SPCA of Mariposa County at 5599 Highway 49 in Mariposa also was on standby after no requests for assistance were made by evacuees, according to the Red Cross.

Vikaas Shanker is an award-winning reporter covering education, crime and courts for the Merced Sun-Star and Los Banos Enterprise. After growing up in Naperville, Illinois and graduating from the University of Kansas, he reported in several Chicago suburbs before moving to Merced County in 2016.