Updated acres burned and containment 7/28.
A section of Highway 152 near the San Luis Reservoir in Merced County was closed July 27 for several hours following a big rig roll over which resulted in a vegetation fire. The blaze at 152 and Romero Visitors Center west of Santa Nella—referred to as the Cottonwood Fire—has burned 788 acres and was at 100% containment as of July 28., according to Cal Fire.
According to a spokesperson for Caltrans District 5, one lane in each direction was opened in the afternoon, but traffic was moving slowly. All lanes were expected to open at 4:01 p.m.
It has been reported that Caltrans diverted some traffic to Panoche Road. The Caltrans District 5 spokesperson could not confirm that and directed BenitoLink to contact District 4, who was not immediately available for comment.
Jason Derosa, public works superintendent for San Benito County, referred to the traffic on Panoche Road as a disaster.
“It’s taking people four hours on Panoche Road because of the diversion,” he said. “Semis should not be sent through there. The road can’t handle traffic like that. It’s a small country rural road.”
The road needs to be updated Derosa said and he has been working on getting state funds and supervisorial support to address that road. He said California Highway Patrol was dispatched to the road, and that there is an area in which it’s only one lane for a quarter-mile, so traffic needs to be yielding.