A rapidly moving grass fire threatened Knights Ferry homes on Saturday, July 30, reported after an assisting unit on an unrelated incident spotted the blaze on Frymire Road along the Stanislaus River near the Tuolumne and Stanislaus County line.
According to Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District officials, crews were in the area around 5:22 p.m. for a water rescue of five overdue rafters when the fire was noticed by a helicopter unit assisting in the search. Initial reports were that approximately 20 acres was burning at the base of the river and was progressing at a moderate rate of spread.
“When Mercy-Air was looking for them (the rafters), they spotted the fire,” said Carissa Higginbotham, Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Press Officer. “It ended up with a full response.”
Units from Stanislaus Consolidated, the Modesto Fire Department, and Cal-Fire responded to the scene that threatened some structures, but the blaze did not require any evacuations. The CHP was called in to direct traffic on Highway 108 at Kennedy Road, but no roads were closed during the firefighting effort.
The fire jumped across the Stanislaus River and, according to officials, suppression efforts were very labor intensive and difficult due to the location of the fire. Two separate air drops of retardant and additional overhead water bucket drops were conducted by Cal-Fire to battle the blaze.
A Stanislaus Consolidated firefighter was injured and transported to a nearby hospital for treatment.
The fire was contained to 50 acres Saturday night with no structure loss with firefighters clearing the scene around 9:30 p.m.
Cal-Fire units remained in the area overnight and were rejoined by Stanislaus Consolidated later the following morning for mop up and overhaul.
Higginbotham said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.