Fire crews were battling Monday afternoon to protect homes in the Gann's Meadow neighborhood on Highway 4 as winds coming up the Stanislaus River canyon whipped the flames of a 400-acre blaze.
Crews from the U.S. Forest Service and other agencies have been fighting the fire since Saturday, said Jerry Snyder, spokesman for the Stanislaus National Forest.
The Ramsey Fire was 20 percent contained by Monday morning, but it began moving again Monday afternoon when wind fanned the flames and helped the fire jump a bulldozer line, Snyder said.
By 3 p.m. Monday, the California Highway Patrol had closed Highway 4 in the area and the Forest Service was deploying a strike team to protect homes.
By then, most residents in the neighborhood had either left or were already packed and ready to head out on a moment's notice.
Snyder said a campfire that escaped from a site near the Stanislaus River ignited the blaze, which was first reported to the Forest Service at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.
The person responsible for the fire did not have the required campfire permit and that he had been cited for allowing the fire to escape. The man could also be held financially liable for costs to suppress the blaze, which had already reached $500,000 by Monday morning.
Early Sunday morning one firefighter was evacuated by helicopter and taken to a hospital in Modesto where he was treated for heat stroke, Snyder said. That firefighter was able to return to his unit on Monday.
On Monday, there were 274 firefighters assigned to the Ramsey Fire, as well as three helicopters. Other agencies assisting included the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Ebbetts Pass Fire District, and the California Highway Patrol.
Officials estimate it may take until Sunday to fully contain the fire.