“While good progress continues on the fire, there is still a lot of work to be done,” the update reads. Officials said several evacuation orders had been superseded by fire advisories.
Some areas are inaccessible to bulldozers, so dismounted teams cut a line of fire and smoke from the blaze hampered the response of the 24 helicopter units involved.
A firefighter stood Wednesday morning in a place where he had been able to prevent the flames from advancing.
“For the past two days what we’ve been doing is coming back with hoes and… hand tools. We’re digging out all the fumes and hot spots to make sure nothing ends up on the side… side green (where the vegetation has not been burned),” firefighter Travis Gooch told CNN’s Adrienne Broaddus. “It’s a bit of a relief that everything seems to be holding up as it should.”
Gooch, who is from Manteca, said he and his crew worked nights and slept about an hour on their fire engines.
“The first night we were here, no one slept,” he said. “So last night to sleep in for an hour. That was good. Everyone can’t wait to get back to camp and sleep for today.”
No firefighters have been injured since the start of the blaze, the cause of which is under investigation.
More than 1,100 structures remain under threat.
On Tuesday morning, Cal Fire officials said in the night’s incident report, “Fire crews continue to defend the structure, extinguish hot spots, and build and improve lines. direct. Persistent drought, extremely dry fuels and tree mortality continue to contribute to the spread of the fire. .”
More than 3,000 people are tackling the blaze, deploying air and ground efforts, including two dozen helicopters, 286 fire trucks, 68 water tenders and 94 bulldozers, according to Cal Fire.
Difficult terrain and abundant dry vegetation fueling the fire have complicated efforts to curb its growth, said Cal Fire spokesman Cpt. Keith Wade told CNN on Monday.
“The footprint here, the area of fuels available to burn when the fire starts, and the topography available – the canyons, the drainages – the wind flowing through those areas, can make the fire behave erratically and it can explode. .. the ferocity of this fire can be intense at times,” Wade said.
There have been 23 wildfires in California so far this month, according to Cal Fire, but only three have exceeded 500 acres. No one came close to the massive destruction of the Oak Fire, in part because of extremely dry conditions in the area, Wade said.
“I think the real difference firefighters feel on this one is how dry everything is, it has certainly been (drier) over the years,” he said. “We’ve noticed there seems to be less precipitation, less humidity and the available fuel load is definitely there.”
The blaze’s rapid growth has also made evacuation efforts more difficult, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie told CNN on Monday, noting that officials and law enforcement were doing their best. to notify residents when they were due to leave.
“The reality is it’s moving so fast, it doesn’t give people a lot of time and sometimes they’re going to have to evacuate with the shirts on their backs,” Heggie said.
Incremental progress by fire crews has allowed officials to reduce evacuation orders in some areas to fire advisories, Cal Fire said.
An evacuation shelter has been set up at Mariposa Elementary School for displaced residents.
Heggie attributed the “speed and intensity” of the Oak Fire to the state’s prolonged drought and human-caused climate change.
“What I can tell you is that this is a direct result of what climate change is,” he said. “You can’t have a 10-year drought in California and expect things to be the same. And we’re now paying the price for that 10-year drought and climate change.”
“That dead fuel that’s resulted from that climate change and that drought is what’s driving them, what we now call ‘mega fires,'” Heggie said.
The report suggests it’s time we “learn to live with fire”, urging authorities and policy makers to work with local communities to use indigenous knowledge and invest in planning and prevention efforts.
CNN’s Poppy Harlow, Taylor Romine, Stella Chan, Sara Smart and Rachel Ramirez contributed to this report.