UPDATE: The Mission Fire is estimated to cover 875 and is 8% contained, the Madera County Sheriff's Office said Tuesday morning. There are 462 people working to fight the fire.
The Mission Fire continued its spread through Labor Day to the northeast of North Fork, making conditions difficult for more than 400 personnel as a total of five structures were reported lost.
In an evening update, Fire Captain Dan Olson, an information officer with Incident Management Team 3, said the biggest remaining threats were for the Cascadel Woods area, the town of North Fork itself, and portions of the Sierra National Forest.
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“Tree mortality isn’t helping us out there,” Olson said. “That with high temperatures, limited access and terrain, it’s definitely a challenge. But we’re hoping with some weather forecasts showing declining temperatures we’ll get some real good help out there.”
Some areas of Cascadel Woods have tree mortality rates over 90% in the 3,000 to 6,000 foot elevation range, providing easy fuel for the rapid spread of flames. When the Mission Fire began around 1 p.m. on Sunday, the entire community of Cascadel was placed on evacuation as the fires rapidly grew to 350 acres in hours.
Temperatures were forecast to drop into highs in the middle 80s in Oakhurst through the week, after reaching into the triple digits the week before, causing fires to grow at exorbitant speeds.
The Mission Fire grew to 825 acres and was 5% contained, Olson said, with 250 structures threatened. He said 434 personnel were assigned Monday night, alongside 55 engines, six water tenders, seven hand crews, and 11 bulldozers.
“We’re getting more resources coming in,” Olson added. “As fires through the state start winding down, we have outstanding orders for more equipment so hopefully we’re going to see an uptick in personnel as the days continue.”
The entirety of Cascadel Woods remains under evacuation. The Benedict Meadow area, including Road 7S07, about a mile to the northeast of Cascadel, was placed on evacuation advisory around 7 p.m. due to the flames.
Throughout the day, neighbors and friends provided information that at least two of the lost structures were homes belonging to Judy Linda Horn and Dan Horn, and Warren Morgan, whose wife Laura of 61 years died last month. Fundraising pages were established for both the Horns and Morgan to help them recover from their losses.
Whether the three remaining structures were homes was not yet known.
Though fire behavior was reportedly not as strong as Sunday, smoky skies prevented air attack from making as many drops as requested throughout the day.
The cause of the Mission Fire remains under investigation.