A Wednesday grass and oak woodland fire along Highway 108, just west of Mono Way, burned 11 acres and sent chills up the spines of many fire-leery Sonorans.
Smoke billows from a grassfire burned along Highway 108 near the Mono Way exit Wednesday. Maggie Beck / Union Democrat, Copyright 2014.
The fire — which sent a mushroom cloud of smoke skyward about 1:45 p.m. — was fully contained by 8 p.m., according to Cal Fire Capt. Barry Rudolph.
Firefighters did not remain on scene overnight but will be out today to check the burned area, Rudolph said.
The cause is under investigation, Rudolph said.
There were no reported injuries or structural damage. However, it burned perilously close to a county bus yard and the back of Walmart, where gawkers lined up for a view and photos.
Rudolph was the incident commander and arrived minutes after the fire started. He discovered a 100 by 100 foot area engulfed in flames and rapidly spreading east.
Rudolph set up a command center behind the Tuolumne County Transit yard and ground and air fire crews battled the fire.
Rudolph said the fire conditions are higher than normal — the ground and air more like August than June — because of the drought.
Cal Fire is at peak staffing already. Eight Cal Fire engines, two Sierra Conservation Center Baseline prison crews, two Tuolumne County Fire Department engines, water tenders, air tankers, helicopters and bulldozers were all needed to contend with the Highway 108 blaze.
“This is a reminder about the importance of defensible space,” Rudolph said. “The fires this season are burning hotter than what we would normally see at this time of year. We want to make sure everyone’s got a 100-foot clearance around their property.”