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This week on Valley Edition our team reports on the Detwiler Fire burning around the mountain town of Mariposa. We also hear from Julie Cart With CALmatters about the passage of AB-617. Later we hear from Bakersfield Californian Reporter Harold Pierce about his latest reporting on a case of police brutality in Bakersfield. Ending the program we are joined by Fresno Bee Reporter Mackenzie Mays about her new series looking at the lack of sex education in the region. 

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

UPDATE: Evacuation orders remain in place for residents on Greeley Hill Road and Dogtown Road near Coulterville.

Original post:
Residents of Mariposa County are beginning to return home as the Detwiler Fire slowly dies down. Cal Fire is getting control of the blaze but not before it burned more than 76,000 acres.

Monday is the first day some are learning if their homes survived the blaze.

Linda Scoggin’s home is the only one left standing on a remote road in Mt. Bullion north of Mariposa but that doesn’t mean everything survived.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

Residents of the town of Mariposa are free to return to their homes. Cal Fire has lifted the evacuation order caused by the Detwiler Fire that sent the town’s roughly 2,000 residents scrambling. As of Friday morning, the fire has burned 58 single family homes.

Cal Fire officials say that while the fire continues to burn it is no longer a threat to enter the city.

Andy Isolano with Cal Fire says cooperation from the weather and an influx of firefighters helped to protect the historic mining town.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The Detwiler Fire  has now burned over 70,000 acres and is 10 percent contained, but officials say they are making progress in the firefight, and say Mariposa residents may soon be able to return to their homes.

Ken Pimlott is the Director of Cal Fire. He says cooler temperatures have helped the effort. 

“Our goal is to the use the next several days while the weather has somewhat moderated to really try to get containment lines in, but we’re really not out of the woods,” says Pimlott.

Jeffrey Hess / Valley Public Radio

As the Detwiler Fire continues to grow, residents in the surrounding area are growing increasingly nervous. Many residents are already making preparations to evacuate if necessary.

One of those residents is Jack Wass. Wass is a lifelong resident of Bootjack which is just a few miles southeast of Mariposa on the edge of the evacuation zone on Highway 49.

Wass and his friend are trying to jumpstart his truck to make sure it is ready to roll in case they get word they have to leave.

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

On Tuesday when the Detwiler Fire in Mariposa doubled in size residents were forced to evacuate. They were left questioning whether their homes and businesses would be engulfed in the flames approaching the town. 

Sharon Capps, her sister Janice Lindgren and I are watching a massive DC-10 plane drop load after load of retardant on a glowing hill above the old-gold mining town of Mariposa.

“This is really bad, it’s the biggest fire I have seen here,” Capps says. “There’s a helicopter right there. It’s going way back like way towards Yosemite.”

AT&T/Ezra David Romero

On a hill overlooking Millerton Lake in Fresno County a group of workers are gathering around a cell tower. They’re watching a tiny white drone slowly circle the tower from the ground all the way to the top. Quasie Jones is with the drone imaging company Skycatch.

“So what it’s doing is taking a picture every two seconds,” Jones says. “So by the end of it it’ll basically have probably like five or 600 photos. So then our technology renders that and creates a 3D model.”

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

Update 8:00 am Thursday

Overnight infrared imagery of the Detwiler Fire shows the blaze has grown to over 70,000 acres. The fire is now 10 percent contained. In the last 24 hours the southern flank of the fire was active, burning south of Highway 140, in the area between Mariposa and Cathey's Valley. Across the Merced River the northern flank of the fire also advanced and is threatening the community of Coulterville. It has destroyed 45 buildings and damaged six others. 

Update: Wednesday 11:00 pm

Last week it made national headlines: a company with ties to Google is releasing 20 million mosquitoes in Fresno. It might sound like a bad idea, but it's actually part of an innovative plan called "Debug Fresno" that aims to stop the local spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can spread dengue fever and the zika virus.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

On Tuesday morning, construction crews slowly lifted the old Fulton Mall clock tower into the clear Fresno sky and moved the delicate structure to a new home, just a few feet away. Moving the iconic structure, which has stood in downtown since the mall was built in 1964, signals the home stretch of turning the pedestrian mall back into a street.

The city also used the occasion to announce the official grand opening of the completed project is set for October 21st, 2017.

Kerry Klein / KVPR

School’s out and the weather’s hot, so this week, we decided to escape the heat of the valley and go to camp in the mountains. Bearskin Meadow Camp is a not-so-typical summer camp near Hume Lake, where campers do more than play outside and share campfire stories.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

When new presidential administrations come into office, they often make changes to agencies and appoint people who share their political outlook. The same is true under the leadership of President Donald Trump.

However, one seemingly obscure reorganization involving leadership of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development program is sending shockwaves throughout Central California and beyond. One of those concerned is Farmersville Mayor Paul Boyer.

Photo provided by Kirke Wrench and Alison Taggart-Barone.

Okay, you know it, we know it: Summer in Central California is hot. Really hot. So hot, we know that even if we had an awesome activity to talk about, most of you probably wouldn’t do it. At least, not during the day. Instead, we’ve got an idea for something cool to do after the sun has retreated below the horizon: stargazing.

Valley Public Radio

On this week's program our team reports on drones, a summer camp for diabetic youth and how potential cuts to the USDA could hurt some in the region. We also hear from Steve Mulligian with the Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District about a project funded by Google where 20 million mosquitoes will be released this summer throughout the Fresno area. Ending the show we hear the latest installment of our podcast Outdoorsy. This time it's all about the stars. 

In response to an unprecedented political news cycle, and a seemingly-insatiable appetite for more reliable news analysis, we are excited to announce that KCRW’s "Left, Right and Center" will become a one-hour program starting in July. Listeners can now hear the program from 6:00 – 7:00 PM on Saturdays, following Weekend All Things Considered. 

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