Fast-moving brush fire forces evacuations in Mariposa County

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A screen shot of an image provide by PG&E of a brush fire where an Evacuation order was issued for half of Mariposa County, CA due to Agua Fire
An image provided by Pacific Gas and Electric shows a brush fire in Mariposa County on Monday. (Pacific Gas and Electric)

A brush fire in Mariposa County, just north of Fresno, forced evacuations after growing rapidly Monday, officials said.

The fire exploded to 80 acres within a couple of hours after sparking along Highway 140, burning through dry brush as it moved north toward Highway 49 and the Mariposa-Yosemite Airport, said Jaime Williams, a spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

By 7 p.m., the fire was 300 acres and 10% contained, according to Cal Fire.

Dubbed the Agua fire, the blaze began along Highway 140 near Agua Fria and Yaqui Gulch roads about 1 p.m., Williams said.

Fire officials ordered evacuations for people in the areas between both highways as the fire continued to burn upslope, according to a map shared by local officials.

The blaze was sparked by a vehicle crash along Highway 140 and quickly spread into the surrounding brush, according to a report by the Sierra Sun Times.

Cal Fire listed the blaze's cause as "vehicle" Monday night.

Crews with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection were battling the blaze, which prompted agencies from around the Central Valley to send units, said John Dominguez with Cal Fire/Fresno County Fire.

Weather service officials issued an excessive heat warning Monday for the Central Valley region, including Mariposa County, which saw temperatures over 100 degrees when the fire erupted.

"We are entering the summer months and drought conditions, which will add to the intensity and spread of the fire," Williams said.

Elsewhere in Mariposa County, a separate blaze — the Washburn fire — continued burning in Yosemite National Park. The fire at one point had threatened to rip through Mariposa Grove, home to about 500 giant sequoias. Fire crews successfully protected the grove, and as of Monday had contained 50% of the fire.

That blaze has burned close to 5,000 acres.

Times staff writer Gregory Yee contributed to this report.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.