© Ron Orozco / The Fresno Bee
A plume of smoke from a brush fire rises above Oakhurst Monday, August 18, 2014.
A brush fire near Oakhurst has prompted Madera County officials to order 1,562 homes evacuated Monday afternoon as fire crews and emergency workers from throughout the region converge on the foothill community.
The blaze, called the Junction fire, quickly blackened about 300 acres north of the town and is moving east from its starting point near Avenue 425-A and Quail Drive. Spot fires are being reported south of Highway 41 in Oakhurst.
Two structures are confirmed on fire or lost, and 300 homes are threatened. Power was reported out in Oakhurst.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for all businesses and residents along the Highway 41 corridor between Highway 49 and Road 632 (Sky Ranch Road).
Evacuation orders include: Jean Road East and West, Scott Road, and Taylor Mountain (at the end of John West Road).
An evacuation warning has been issued for John West Road subdivision, and Indian Springs, Road 427, Pierce subdivision.
The fire also reportedly jumped Lewis Creek and is moving toward Road 222.
A major concern was the fire inside the Suburban Propane building at 41441 Highway 41, toward the northeast end of the community.
Suburban Propane started as a spot fire when flames jumped Highway 41, he said. The fire got into the attic and fire crews can't stop it without risking significant lives, according to one fire official.
Firefighters are concerned about building and the 30,000-gallon tanks on site. If the fire spreads beyond the building and heads for the tanks, firefighters were ordered to end the fight to save the facility. Evacuations were done a half-mile around Suburban Propane, said Don Stein, the division chief for Madera County Cal Fire.
"We will be in there as long as we can, but firefighter safety is an issue," he said.
Another fire official was heard on a scanner saying, "The tanks are going to do what they are going to do and it's going to be bad."
© The Fresno Bee
Crews work to keep a fire at Suburban Propane in Oakhurst from threatening large propane tanks on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.