2017-08-24 / Front Page

Detwiler — from above

Flight gives new perspective on damage from fire


This is an aerial photo of a home on Mt. Bullion Cutoff Road that was leveled by the fire. There were 63 single-family homes destroyed in the Detwiler Fire. 
Photo by Nicole W. Little This is an aerial photo of a home on Mt. Bullion Cutoff Road that was leveled by the fire. There were 63 single-family homes destroyed in the Detwiler Fire. Photo by Nicole W. Little There’s little doubt that, so far, the Detwiler Fire has been the biggest news in Mariposa County in 2017.

After the fire happened, we at the Mariposa Gazette thought it would be interesting for our readers if we could get a view of the devastation from above.

The fire destroyed 63 single-family homes, damaged many more, devastated feed land, fences and much more. It burned more than 82,000 acres in Mariposa County and was the largest fire in California at the time.

Once the fire was under control, we contacted Tony Borreson, owner of Airborrn Aviation and the manager of the Mariposa Yosemite Airport.

Tony has been a real friend to the newspaper, allowing us to ride along on his first scenic flight over Yosemite National Park last year.

When we approached him about the idea of doing aerial photos of the Detwiler damage, he was on board immediately.

“When do you want to do it?” was his first response.

Wanting to make sure most of the CAL FIRE assets were out of the area, we waited until last week for the flight.

Pilot Martin Wymond, who works closely with Borreson, agreed to take up newspaper office manager Nicole W. Little on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Little’s adventure began as soon as she arrived at the airport. Because the South Fork Fire had been burning in Yosemite, there were various helicopters at the airport, along with personnel who were battling the blaze. She visited with some of them about the South Fork Fire as well as other issues, including the Detwiler Fire.

One of them talked about a large fire he had been working on in Nevada and there was discussion about the major fire that took place recently in central Montana.

For Little, it was not only eye-opening, but heart wrenching.

“It is so sad,” she said.

Little said getting a view from above was especially eyeopening and gave a whole new perspective on the absolute devastation caused by the blaze.

She also noted the number of dozer tracks that criss-cross the County. Little said it was obvious CAL FIRE officials did everything they could to slow down the fire but in some cases, it did not work.

One of the more interesting pictures she took shows the absolute importance of defensible space. The photo shows a house and outbuildings still standing with charred earth on all sides.

On a sadder note, Little was also witness to homes that didn’t have such a fate. She saw homes completely burned to the ground.

“It made me want to cry,” said Little.

Indeed, many people in Mariposa County feel the same way.

But, since the fire, the community has pulled together and is moving forward.

It speaks volumes for Mariposa County.

For more information about Airborrn Aviation, including scenic flights over Mariposa County, visit yosemiteaviation.com.

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