Blazes in dry grass, driven by wind, destroy structures, endanger others
Two suspicious grass fires erupted early Thursday afternoon in Madera within two hours of each other.
The first, which started about noon, destroyed outbuildings and sheds on Ellis Street, burned through about 21 acres of dry grass and threatened a row of houses along Acton Way, adjacent to the grass field that burned. One firefighter was injured fighting that blaze, sustaining a laceration to his hand that likely would require stitches.
The second fire, in the dry Fresno River bed, began about 2 p.m., after the first was brought under control. It began in the river bed near the Gateway Drive railroad bridge, and the wind rapidly pushed the flames east through the river channel and into the backyards of houses and businesses as far as Central Avenue at Lake Street. The Amigo Market, on Central near D Street, sustained some minor damage, but was able to continue operations.
Heavy smoke could be seen for miles and slowed traffic on State Route 99, as motorists tried to watch the firefighters battle the blazes...