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Update: Fire In Big Oak Flat Area

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Update at 6:24 p.m.: Firefighters have stopped the forward progress of the Vernal Fire at 10 acres, according to CAL Fire spokesperson Emily Kilgore. Rugged, steep terrain had made it hard for ground crews to get hose line around the blaze, but aircraft was able to drop retardant around the entire fire to assist firefighters.

The flames broke out around 4 p.m. in some grass between Priest-Coulterville and Merrell roads in the Big Oak Flat area of Tuolumne County, which is south of Highway 120 and west of Highway 49. What ignited the fire remains under investigation. Kilgore relays that crews will remain on scene to gain full containment and then mop up for the next couple of hours.

A special thank you to our community partners Sheena Winkler, Matt Juarez and Bob Asquith for sending in photos and Doug Schmiett and Terre Passeau for sending videos.

Update at 5:20 p.m.: Firefighters are making good progress on the Vernal Fire that is burning in the grass between Priest-Coulterville and Merrell roads in the Big Oak Flat area of Tuolumne County, which is south of Highway 120 and west of Highway 49. The blaze is holding at 10 acres, reports CAL Fire spokesperson Emily Kilgore. She adds, “Steep terrain is hampering access for ground crews, however, aircraft retardant drops have the fire surrounded.”

Ground crews still need to encircle the entire blaze with fire lines, which Kilgore says they are working on to stop the flames spread.

Update at 4:23 p.m.: CAL Fire spokesperson Emily Kilgore reports the vegetation fire has been dubbed the “Vernal Fire.” She adds it is 10 acres in size and burning in the grass between Priest-Coulterville and Merrell roads in the Big Oak Flat area of Tuolumne County, which is south of Highway 120 and west of Highway 49. There is no word on the flames’ rate of spread or whether any structures are threatened at this time.

Original post at 4:10 p.m.: Big Oak Flat, CA — All Columbia aircraft and ground resources are heading to a report of a vegetation fire in the Big Oak Flat area of Tuolumne County.

CAL Fire reports that the fire is in the vicinity of Merrell and Preist-Coulterville roads, which is south of Highway 120 and west of Highway 49. There is no word on the fire’s activity or whether any structures are threatened at this time. An update will be provided as soon as new information comes into the newsroom.

  • Vernal Fire at 8 p.m.
  • Vernal Fire in the Big Flat Oak area of Tuolumne County
  • Vernal Fire in the Big Flat Oak area of Tuolumne County
  • Vernal Fire in the Big Flat Oak area of Tuolumne County
  • Vernal Fire in the Big Flat Oak area of Tuolumne County

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