After burning more than 81,000 acres in Mariposa County, the Detwiler Fire is 75 percent contained.
The fire that once threatened about 1,500 structures in the foothills east of Merced has now reduced in size and threatened only about 30 structures as of Friday.
Mike Yeun, a Cal Fire spokesman, said Friday that part of the firefighting effort was helped by a large white weather balloon that was tested Thursday.
The balloon is used by Cal Fire to gather wind, temperature and humidity data to help fire officials determine ways to fight fires.
It’s “everything you would want as a weather station,” Yeun said. The balloon can also help predict where fire is spreading, he said.
The balloon was not used for much of the Detwiler Fire operation, but now that it’s been brought out by Cal Fire, Yeun said he anticipates it being used a few more times during this year’s fire season, which he said could last until December.
All of the Detwiler evacuation orders and road closures have been lifted. Residents are being allowed to return to check on homes.
An isolated 100-acre spot fire that erupted Thursday afternoon was also quickly contained and did not burn structures.