Yosemite Lakes area sees string of fires

June 11, 2013 12:27:25 AM PDT
A string of wildfires in the Yosemite Lakes area has some residents believing there is an arsonist in the foothills. But fire investigators are being cautious before ruling the fires suspicious.

This past weekend, there were more than half a dozen fires in Madera County. Investigators are working to determine a cause for the fires but the hot weather could have played a factor.

"This is the most fires we've seen. We've seen other fires, accidentally lit, but they've been occasional like 2 or 3 during the summer," said Chris Dailey. Dailey has experienced her share of wildfires living in the foothills of Yosemite Lakes over the past 13 years. But the recent rash of fires she says is suspicious. "It seems that all the fires are right there by the roadside, so it seems somebody is coming by. Maybe they're throwing a cigarette. Maybe they're throwing a match," said Dailey.

Over the hot weekend, Cal Fire responded to 8 fires that burned more than 27 acres in Madera County. "We're in conditions we normally see later in the summer, not at the beginning of summer," said Chris Christopherson, Cal Fire Battalion Chief. "Looking at that, the conditions for fire danger in California is only going to get worse."

No homes were burned but the early fire season is making it a challenge for firefighters. "We are responding to 53 percent more fires this year than we have in the past and on a 5 year average, we're up 90 percent," said Karen Guillemin with Cal Fire. While arson has not been ruled out, Cal Fire says residents should be vigilant and call 9-1-1 if they see anything suspicious. But most importantly, residents should keep their homes clear of any dry brush. "It's a huge concern. They live in a rural area where wild land fires are a life and property threat to them and we take that very seriously," said Guillemin.

Still, residents can't stop talking about the foothill arsonist, that has yet to be confirmed. "We'd like to see the person caught. We don't want anything burned up," said Dailey.


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