California

California’s Oak Fire still 0% contained: 2,000 firefighters battle blaze and 6,000 evacuate

An out-of-control wildfire headed toward Yosemite National Park raged for its fourth straight day Monday – burning stronger than ever despite the efforts of more than 2,000 local firefighters.

Dubbed the Oak Fire, the blaze suddenly surfaced Friday and has since spread through the Sierra Nevadas rapidly – confounding California fire officials and frightening residents of the several remote mountain communities littering the heavily forested area.

The fire has now burgeoned into one of the biggest of the year – with more than 3,800 ordered to flee their homes in remote mountain communities in the Sierra Nevada, which has seen unseasonably high temperatures and lack of rainfall as of late, further fueling the inferno. 

Firefighters have so far failed to quell the disaster, which as of Sunday had ravaged 15,603 acres of land – roughly half the size of Paris – despite deploying  air tankers, bulldozers and hand crews while being joined Sunday by fire crews from the Bay Area.

Tired and frustrated, officials Sunday announced that despite their efforts for a third straight day, the fire was still ‘0 percent contained’- raising questions whether the blaze will eventually reach the park, now just 10 miles away.   

They also warned more than 2,000 residents living in communities in the path of the inferno whom have yet to evacuate to be ready to flee the area – saying they ‘haven’t seen fire behavior like this’ in all their years fighting blazes.  

An out-of-control wildfire headed toward Yosemite National Park raged for its fourth straight day Monday – burning stronger than ever despite the efforts of more than 2,000 local firefighters

The blaze suddenly surfaced Friday and has since spread through the Sierra Nevadas rapidly - confounding California fire officials and frightening residents of the several remote mountain communities littering the heavily forested area

The blaze suddenly surfaced Friday and has since spread through the Sierra Nevadas rapidly - confounding California fire officials and frightening residents of the several remote mountain communities littering the heavily forested area

The blaze suddenly surfaced Friday and has since spread through the Sierra Nevadas rapidly – confounding California fire officials and frightening residents of the several remote mountain communities littering the heavily forested area

Firefighters have so far failed to quell the disaster, which as of Sunday had ravaged 15,603 acres of land - roughly half the size of Paris - despite deploying air tankers, bulldozers and hand crews while being joined Sunday by fire crews from the Bay Area

Firefighters have so far failed to quell the disaster, which as of Sunday had ravaged 15,603 acres of land - roughly half the size of Paris - despite deploying air tankers, bulldozers and hand crews while being joined Sunday by fire crews from the Bay Area

Firefighters have so far failed to quell the disaster, which as of Sunday had ravaged 15,603 acres of land – roughly half the size of Paris – despite deploying air tankers, bulldozers and hand crews while being joined Sunday by fire crews from the Bay Area

Bay Area officials joined the fight Sunday, helping officials planes to drop retardant on the raging flames - all to no avail

Bay Area officials joined the fight Sunday, helping officials planes to drop retardant on the raging flames - all to no avail

California fire officials repeatedly used planes and air tankers to drop retardant on the raging flames Sunday – all to no avail

Officials ordered 3,800 residents to evacuate the region Friday, after the blaze suddenly surfaced southwest of the iconic national park at roughly 2:30 pm near the small mountain town of Midpines. 

Teams were on scene early on, but the fire progressed atypically, officials said, and overran their best efforts. 

The fire has since moved east up into the Sierra, toward the town of Mariposa Pines – which has a population of 1,400 – and in the direction of Yosemite, Justin Macomb, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection operations section chief, told the public meeting. 

‘The fire quickly outflanked us. We couldn’t even attack it with the resources that we had on hand,’ Macomb said. ‘In my career, I haven’t seen fire behavior like that.’ 

By Sunday, the fire had closed within half a mile from Mariposa Pines – spreading more than four miles east in a matter of days – but was still more than 10 miles from Yosemite.

While there is still no progress in containing the fire, Macomb said crews made progress in stopping the spread of the flames on the southern side and the western edge along a nearby road where the blaze started – taking that achievement as a small victory.

The Oak Fire burns through trees on Sunday. Officials described the fire's behavior as 'explosive,' citing how the rapidly spreading flames made runs through bone-dry vegetation caused by one of the worst drought in the American Southwest in centuries, worsening the crisis

The Oak Fire burns through trees on Sunday. Officials described the fire's behavior as 'explosive,' citing how the rapidly spreading flames made runs through bone-dry vegetation caused by one of the worst drought in the American Southwest in centuries, worsening the crisis

The Oak Fire burns through trees on Sunday. Officials described the fire’s behavior as ‘explosive,’ citing how the rapidly spreading flames made runs through bone-dry vegetation caused by one of the worst drought in the American Southwest in centuries, worsening the crisis

Tired and frustrated, fire officials revealed the fire was still '0 percent contained' at the end of a third straight day of efforts Sunday - raising questions whether the blaze will eventually reach the park, which is now just 10 miles away

Tired and frustrated, fire officials revealed the fire was still '0 percent contained' at the end of a third straight day of efforts Sunday - raising questions whether the blaze will eventually reach the park, which is now just 10 miles away

Tired and frustrated, fire officials revealed the fire was still ‘0 percent contained’ at the end of a third straight day of efforts Sunday – raising questions whether the blaze will eventually reach the park, which is now just 10 miles away

Fire officials were on scene early on, but the fire progressed atypically, officials said, and overran their best efforts. The fire is still most active slightly west in the Footman Ridge area, officials said, less than 20 miles west from the park

Fire officials were on scene early on, but the fire progressed atypically, officials said, and overran their best efforts. The fire is still most active slightly west in the Footman Ridge area, officials said, less than 20 miles west from the park

Fire officials were on scene early on, but the fire progressed atypically, officials said, and overran their best efforts. The fire is still most active slightly west in the Footman Ridge area, officials said, less than 20 miles west from the park

‘Today was the first day that I felt confident with this southern piece,’ he said. ‘I didn’t want the fire to progress any further south. So we were able to get hand line and dozers. We sent everything we could to try to get direct line around the south and stop the southern spread. So that was a win for me.’

Macomb said they are currently working to protect homes and structures in Lush Meadows, a community that was evacuated, and that planes were dropping retardant on flames threatening the town, which is less than 20 miles west from the park

He added that crews are working to build containment lines roughly a mile south around nearby Snow Creek, which is currently being enveloped by the blaze.

The fire, however, is still most active slightly west in the Footman Ridge area, he said, still within 20 miles of the park.

Officials said the flames, which are spreading east, made a hard run north Sunday, toward Bear Clover Lane and Jerseydale Road, but officials were able to stop the northward spread, Macomb said.

‘We were able to stop the fire, and Bear Clover is closed as of now,’ he said.

Smoke from the Oak Fire hangs over hills on Sunday. At least 10 structures have been destroyed thus far, California fire officials said Sunday, and five heavily damaged - with another 2,000 still at risk

Smoke from the Oak Fire hangs over hills on Sunday. At least 10 structures have been destroyed thus far, California fire officials said Sunday, and five heavily damaged - with another 2,000 still at risk

Smoke from the Oak Fire hangs over hills on Sunday. At least 10 structures have been destroyed thus far, California fire officials said Sunday, and five heavily damaged – with another 2,000 still at risk

One of several airplanes that dropped thousands of gallons of retardant on the raging Oak Fire, which blazed undeterred for its fourth straight day Monday

One of several airplanes that dropped thousands of gallons of retardant on the raging Oak Fire, which blazed undeterred for its fourth straight day Monday

One of several airplanes that dropped thousands of gallons of retardant on the raging Oak Fire, which blazed undeterred for its fourth straight day Monday

An air tanker drops retardant while trying to stop the Oak Fire from reaching the evacuated town Lushmeadows - 20 miles west of Yosemite - on Sunday

An air tanker drops retardant while trying to stop the Oak Fire from reaching the evacuated town Lushmeadows - 20 miles west of Yosemite - on Sunday

An air tanker drops retardant while trying to stop the Oak Fire from reaching the evacuated town Lushmeadows – 20 miles west of Yosemite – on Sunday

A bird flies as a firefighting aircraft drops flame retardant on a hillside to control the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Sunday

A bird flies as a firefighting aircraft drops flame retardant on a hillside to control the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Sunday

A bird flies as a firefighting aircraft drops flame retardant on a hillside to control the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Sunday

Cal Fire Chief Mike van Loben Sels said the growth of the fire was ‘pretty amazing’ considering how fast resources were on the scene actively battling flames. ‘We really threw everything at this thing across from the beginning.’

‘When you start to see spots that mile mile and a half out in front. It’s very concerning to me.’

At least 10 homes have been destroyed by the fire so far, officials said Sunday, adding that five had also been heavily damaged. Thousands, however, are still at risk.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. 

Officials initially ordered residents of Marisopa County – located in the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada, north of Fresno and home to more than 17,000 people -to pack up and vacate Friday, after the blaze suddenly surfaced southwest of the iconic national park.

By Saturday, officials described the fire’s behavior as ‘explosive’ – citing how the rapidly spreading flames made runs through bone-dry vegetation caused by one of the worst drought in the American Southwest in centuries, worsening the crisis.

The drought, a 22-year-long ‘megadrought’ caused by low levels of rainfall, is the worst the region has seen in more than 1,200 years, and is connected intimately with climate change, experts say.

A plume of smoke billows over the county Sunday afternoon. Plumes of smoke from the massive fire - which has ravaged 15,603 acres land - could be seen from space on Sunday

A plume of smoke billows over the county Sunday afternoon. Plumes of smoke from the massive fire - which has ravaged 15,603 acres land - could be seen from space on Sunday

A plume of smoke billows over the county Sunday afternoon. Plumes of smoke from the massive fire – which has ravaged 15,603 acres land – could be seen from space on Sunday

A forest is left decimated by the Oak Fire near county seat Mariposa, one of several towns evacuated, on Sunday

A forest is left decimated by the Oak Fire near county seat Mariposa, one of several towns evacuated, on Sunday

A forest is left decimated by the Oak Fire near county seat Mariposa, one of several towns evacuated, on Sunday

Firefighters have since struggled to put out the fire, utilizing an army of aircraft and bulldozers in steep terrain and amid spiking temperatures.

On Sunday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told onlookers to expect a similar lack of results on Sunday, due to unseasonably high temperatures and current dry conditions in the area.

Bay Area officials joined the fight Sunday, sending planes to drop retardant on the raging flames – all to no avail. 

Photos and video footage from the stricken region – a rural, heavily forested landscape – show the destruction left by the fast-moving inferno, which has spread east at a rapid rate, putting pressure on officials to find a solution to protect the iconic park – famed for its giant, ancient sequoia trees.

Satellite imagery shows that a plume of smoke from the massive fire can be seen from space. 

A Sunday incident report warned citizens to stay away and let officials deal with the disaster – which is quickly becoming one of the worse ever in the region.

California fire officials said the fire had so far consumed more than 22 square miles of forest land. That count is expected to rise Monday, when officials give an update on their battle against the burgeoning blaze.

‘Today the weather is expected to remain hot with minimum humidity between 5% and 10%, which will hamper firefighting efforts,’ the agency said in a statement Sunday.

The serious nature of the fire spurred Governor Gavin Newsom to call a state of emergency Saturday.

Numerous roads were subsequently and remain closed Monday, including State Route 140 between Carstens Road and Allred Road – the road where Macomb said his officials stopped further spread Sunday, andone of the main routes into Yosemite.

California has experienced increasingly larger and deadlier wildfires in recent years as climate change has made the western United States much warmer and drier over the past 30 years.

Scientists have said weather will continue to be more extreme and wildfires more frequent, destructive and unpredictable.

Pacific Gas & Electric said on its website that more than 3,100 homes and businesses in the area had lost power as of Sunday and there was no indication when it would be restored.

A firefighter sprays water while battling the Oak Fire, moved east up into the Sierra, toward the town of Mariposa Pines - which has a population of 1,400 - and in the direction of Yosemite

A firefighter sprays water while battling the Oak Fire, moved east up into the Sierra, toward the town of Mariposa Pines - which has a population of 1,400 - and in the direction of Yosemite

A firefighter sprays water while battling the Oak Fire, moved east up into the Sierra, toward the town of Mariposa Pines – which has a population of 1,400 – and in the direction of Yosemite

Firefighters work to keep the Oak Fire from reaching a home in the Jerseydale community on Saturday. The fire has since spread east towards Yosemite at a frightening rate

Firefighters work to keep the Oak Fire from reaching a home in the Jerseydale community on Saturday. The fire has since spread east towards Yosemite at a frightening rate

Firefighters work to keep the Oak Fire from reaching a home in the Jerseydale community on Saturday. The fire has since spread east towards Yosemite at a frightening rate

A firefighters holds a hose while battling the Oak Fire in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

A firefighters holds a hose while battling the Oak Fire in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

A firefighters holds a hose while battling the Oak Fire in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

Flames consume a home on Triangle Rd. as the Oak Fire burned in Mariposa County on Saturday. At least 10 homes have been destroyed by the fire so far, officials said Sunday, adding that five had also been heavily damaged. Thousands are still at risk

Flames consume a home on Triangle Rd. as the Oak Fire burned in Mariposa County on Saturday. At least 10 homes have been destroyed by the fire so far, officials said Sunday, adding that five had also been heavily damaged. Thousands are still at risk

Flames consume a home on Triangle Rd. as the Oak Fire burned in Mariposa County on Saturday. At least 10 homes have been destroyed by the fire so far, officials said Sunday, adding that five had also been heavily damaged. Thousands are still at risk

‘PG&E is unable to access the affected equipment,’ the utility said Friday.

The Oak Fire was sparked as firefighters made progress against an earlier blaze, the Washburn Fire, that burned to the edge of a grove of giant sequoias in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park.

The 7.5-square-mile fire was nearly 80 percent contained after burning for two weeks and moving into the the Sierra National Forest.

California’s Oak Fire still 0% contained: 2,000 firefighters battle blaze and 6,000 evacuate Source link California’s Oak Fire still 0% contained: 2,000 firefighters battle blaze and 6,000 evacuate

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