Firefighters continued to battle wildfires burning in two locations of Calaveras County Friday night. Two fires raged through tinder – dry grass, brush, manzanita and pines Friday in the foothill communities of Sheep Ranch, Mineral Mountain and Indian Creek.
As of late Friday afternoon, these fires had blackened more than 500 acres and a number of homes and structures were damaged or destroyed by the flames.
Numerous air tankers and helicopters – in what seemed like a continuous stream of one after another – dumped thousands of gallons of water and retardant on the fire in the area, near Avery east of Murphys. Fire fighters and strike teams of fire engines were being called in from as far away as Santa Clara.
Homeowner Jeff Yarbrough lives on Fullen Road, which was evacuated by fire officials earlier in the afternoon. He had to let many of his animals, like cows, and chickens run free to escape the flames and smoke. He guided his horse named Raleigh and dog called Lucky away from danger.
Yarbrough´s seen wildfires before, but never this close: “This was right at our door,” he said, still shaken from the experience. He said a fire engine was positioned at his house for protection.
His neighbors were not as lucky. Yarbrough said he watched as a large weekend home across the valley from him literally exploded in flames.
A second large fire continues to burn overnight as well in the Copperopolis area of Calaveras County. This blaze off Highway 4 had reached 250 acres in size as of around 8 p.m. Friday night.