A mandatory evacuation order will be lifted at 9 p.m. Sunday for the Cascadel Woods community as fire officials continue work to control the Willow fire in North Fork.
Mandatory evacuations are still in place for the Central Camp area, Willow Canyon Road and Douglas Ranger Station Road. Fire crews are still building containment lines and extinguishing hot spots in those areas. Evacuees were directed to an American Red Cross shelter at the Oakhurst Community Center, 39800 Road 425 B.
Willow Canyon Road, Central Camp Road, Autumn Ridge Road, Cascadel Road and Douglas Ranger Station Road remain closed. In the Cascadel Woods community, Cascadel Drive and Road 233 remain closed. Residents living off of Road 233, Mission Drive, Peckinpah Acres Drive, and the Cascadel Woods subdivision will have to show identification at the roadblock to be allowed back into their homes.
On Saturday, the biggest risk for fire spread was toward Cascadel Woods, where some residents refused to obey evacuation orders.
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As of Sunday morning, the fire, which sparked after a teen allegedly ignited pine branches with a lighter, had grown to 5,656 acres. More than 1,700 firefighters have the blaze 60% contained, and the firefighting costs swelled from $8.2 million on Friday to $14.7 million Sunday, Cal Fire said.
Although 450 structures are threatened, none has been damaged.
Air quality in North Fork, Oakhurst and Prather is expected to be moderate Sunday and good Monday, according to a report issued Sunday morning. Air quality is expected to be moderate Tuesday in North Fork and good in the other regions.
Willow Fire containment operations on Saturday increased smoke and emission production in the forecast area and the San Joaquin Valley, the report said. With those operations complete, smoke production is expected to decrease, bringing relief to the foothills and some Valley areas.
The weather is expected to get drier this week as a southwest air flow from the coast diminishes potential for thunderstorms, said Modesto Vasquez of the National Weather Service in Hanford.
Vasquez said that as dry air comes in, temperatures will cool down along the foothills, creating generally good conditions to fight fires. The North Fork area is expected to see a high of 91 degrees Monday and 89 degrees Tuesday, he said.
Six firefighters have been injured during the battle: Four suffered dehydration, while two others were treated for minor burns, Cal Fire said.
More than 1 million gallons of water — much of it from Bass Lake — has been used to fight the flames. Crews have also used more than 600,000 gallons of fire retardant.
Containment is expected to climb to 90% or 95% by the end of next week. By then, most firefighters will be allowed to leave and the local forest service will handle the final cleanup.