Oak Fire Update
CAL FIRE expects to have the Oak Fire fully contained in Mariposa County by Wednesday. Containment stands at over 95%, and officials say fire activity has been low the last few days. The Oak Fire was sparked near the community of Midpines between Mariposa and Yosemite National Park. Investigators are still trying to figure out what started the fire, which has been burning for over two weeks.
As we went to press with our Fall 2022 issue the Oak Fire was still burning and our long-time climbing contributor, Chris Van Leuven had lost his home to the fire.
We were happy to see Van Leuven build roots in Mariposa. Having climbed in Yosemite for nearly 30 years, Mariposa served as a perfect home base for him to pursue climbing and share stories to various publications, including Adventure Sports Journal, Outside, Men’s Journal, Alpinist and many more.
Over the past year, Van Leuven started e-biking and says, “it is the best way to explore Mariposa.” It was on his way home from a long ride with some clients, when he saw a fire blazing over Buckingham Mountain (see main image) — just a few short miles from his 430 square foot home. He immediately called in additional friends and rushed to get his dog Fenster and his belongings.
“I moved so fast I forgot Fenster’s leash,” he told ASJ, “and when I went back to get the rest of my bikes and gear, I was too late to go back home. I got the word that the property had burned down a couple of hours later.”
In the weeks before, Van Leuven was making multiple trips to specialists to get answers to some sudden health issues — he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Losing his home added another level of complexity to his already challenging situation. Rebuilding will not be easy for Van Leuven, and close friends put together a Go Fund Me campaign to help him get through this challenging time.
Leuven is just one of hundreds of stories of the people in Mariposa. Over 100 homes have been burned to the ground. Businesses have been lost as well and the area will need our support.
“The best way for people to support our recovery is to visit as soon as it is safe to do so, which may be soon. 52% of our county is employed in tourism. When people stop visiting, income stops for many people. We need visitors to return and stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. That will hope those impacted by this tragedy recover financially as well as emotionally. It will feel like a step back to normalcy,” says Tony McDaniel, Communiications Manager of Mariposa County
Officials are urging anyone who needs information to call the Oak Fire information line: 844-MMU-FIRE (844-668-3473)