Detwiler Fire forces evacuations in Mariposa

Evacuations forced as a result of the Detwiler Fire have left Mariposa a virtual ghost town.

Mariposa usually welcomes bumper-to-bumper traffic.

It's a sign of tourists potentially spending time -- and money-- in town.

But the traffic on Highway 140 Tuesday afternoon was a result of a rush to get out town -- and out of harm's way.

"I've been here since 1974 and I've never seen Mariposa evacuated," says Rocky Shaver.

Evacuations were ordered just before noon.

Hours before, families were forced to leave Cathey's valley after the so-called "Detwiler Fire" jumped across Highway 140.

Mariposa County Sheriff's deputies got help from their counterparts from Madera and Merced County to enforce the orders to leave.

Shaver's family packed bags of clothing, boxes with documents and crates with the family's cats.

"We'll probably go to my sister's," Shaver said.

Miner's Inn, on the north end of Mariposa, had been at capacity.

"We had to ask people to leave due to the mandatory evacuation," said Charlotte Allen, a worker at the hotel.

The parking lot had fewer than five cars.

During wildfire season, firefighters stay here, too.

Now, the rooms are empty.

"We have probably 20 rooms up in [Yosemite]. Some probably don't know the town is being evacuated," Allen said.

Others in nearby communities looked on in amazement.

Paul Reed had stopped to grab a bite to eat in Mariposa.

He lives on the outskirts of town and works at the Mariposa Airport.

He spent Monday watching as firefighting crews used it to fuel up.

The low visibility grounded flights from the airport Tuesday.

"I left my plane in the hangar," he says. "Evacuations are always a troubling time. You're never sure what to take, you never know when to do it."

By late Tuesday, only emergency vehicles and bulldozers traveled on the main road through town.

By Wednesday, it's likely first responders will outnumber the families in Mariposa.

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