California

‘Explosive’ California wildfire near Yosemite spirals out of control’ as firefighters fight blaze

An out-of-control wildfire raging near Yosemite National Park has burgeoned into one of the biggest blazes this year, forcing thousands of Californians to flee their homes in remote mountain communities as the fire raged for a third straight day.

Despite the efforts of more than 2,000 firefighters to contain the blaze, the fire, which began in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas Friday, was 0 percent contained Sunday, state fire officials conceded.

Photos and video footage from the stricken region – a rural landscape home to nearly 18,000 – show the destruction left by the fast-moving inferno, which has spread east at a rapid rate, putting pressure on officials to contain the flames.

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.

Despite the efforts of more than 2,000 firefighters to contain the blaze, the fire, which began in the foothills of the Sierra Nevadas Friday, was 0 percent contained Sunday, state fire officials said. Pictured is the raging fire behind a Smokey the Bear warning sign against forest fires on Sunday

Photos and video footage from the stricken region - a rural landscape home to nearly 18,000 - show the destruction left by the fast-moving inferno, which has spread east at a rapid rate, putting pressure on officials to contain the flames

Photos and video footage from the stricken region - a rural landscape home to nearly 18,000 - show the destruction left by the fast-moving inferno, which has spread east at a rapid rate, putting pressure on officials to contain the flames

Photos and video footage from the stricken region – a rural landscape home to nearly 18,000 – show the destruction left by the fast-moving inferno, which has spread east at a rapid rate, putting pressure on officials to contain the flames

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

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

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

Firefighters' failure to even begin to quell the conflagration has spurred officials to issue a state of emergency for Mariposa County - after the fire forced more than 6,000 to evacuate their homes, while also threatening local wildlife

Firefighters' failure to even begin to quell the conflagration has spurred officials to issue a state of emergency for Mariposa County - after the fire forced more than 6,000 to evacuate their homes, while also threatening local wildlife

Firefighters’ failure to even begin to quell the conflagration has spurred officials to issue a state of emergency for Mariposa County – after the fire forced more than 6,000 to evacuate their homes, while also threatening local wildlife

Firefighters’ failure to even begin to quell the conflagration has spurred officials to issue a state of emergency for Mariposa County – after the fire forced more than 6,000 to evacuate their homes, while also threatening local wildlife.

Officials ordered residents to pack up and vacate Friday, after the blaze suddenly surfaced southwest of the iconic national park at roughly 2:30 pm, near the small mountain town of Midpines, 9 miles from Mariposa.

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. 

Firefighters have since struggled to put out the fire – dubbed the Oak 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.

A Sunday morning 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, consuming more than 22 square miles of forest land, Cal Fire said.

‘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 cause of the fire, officials said, is still under investigation. 

Firefighters work to keep the Oak Fire from reaching a home in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday - the second straight day of the unprecedented blaze

Firefighters work to keep the Oak Fire from reaching a home in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday - the second straight day of the unprecedented blaze

Firefighters work to keep the Oak Fire from reaching a home in the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday – the second straight day of the unprecedented blaze

A firefighter sprays water while battling the Oak Fire in Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

A firefighter sprays water while battling the Oak Fire in Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

A firefighter sprays water while battling the Oak Fire in Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

The Oak Fire burns near the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

The Oak Fire burns near the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

The Oak Fire burns near the Jerseydale community of Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

A helicopter drops water on the Oak Fire burning in Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

A helicopter drops water on the Oak Fire burning in Mariposa County, Calif., on Saturday

A helicopter drops water on the Oak Fire burning in 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

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

Flames from the Oak Fire consume a home on Triangle Rd. in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames from the Oak Fire consume a home on Triangle Rd. in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames from the Oak Fire consume a home on Triangle Rd. in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames from the Oak Fire consume a home on Triangle Road in Mariposa County, Calif., Saturday

Flames from the Oak Fire consume a home on Triangle Road in Mariposa County, Calif., Saturday

Flames from the Oak Fire consume a home on Triangle Road in Mariposa County, Calif., Saturday

A firefighter extinguishes flames as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County, Calif., on Friday - the day the blaze broke out

A firefighter extinguishes flames as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County, Calif., on Friday - the day the blaze broke out

A firefighter extinguishes flames as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County, Calif., on Friday – the day the blaze broke out

Flames engulf a chair inside a burning home as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames engulf a chair inside a burning home as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames engulf a chair inside a burning home as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames consume a home on Triangle Rd. as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames consume a home on Triangle Rd. as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames consume a home on Triangle Rd. as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County on Saturday

Firefighter Joanna Jimenez holds a dog she found wandering in a fire evacuation zone as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County Saturday

Firefighter Joanna Jimenez holds a dog she found wandering in a fire evacuation zone as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County Saturday

Firefighter Joanna Jimenez holds a dog she found wandering in a fire evacuation zone as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County Saturday

Jimenez cradles the lost animal as the Oak Fire burned for the second straight day Saturday

Jimenez cradles the lost animal as the Oak Fire burned for the second straight day Saturday

Jimenez cradles the lost animal as the Oak Fire burned for the second straight day Saturday

Flames consume a home on Triangle Rd. as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames consume a home on Triangle Rd. as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County on Saturday

Flames consume a home on Triangle Rd. as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County on Saturday

A plane drops retardant while battling the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

A plane drops retardant while battling the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

A plane drops retardant while battling the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

Evacuation orders were in place for more than 6,000 people living across a several-mile span of the sparsely populated area in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Governor Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for Mariposa County due to the fire’s effects.

Flames destroyed 10 residential and commercial structures and damaged five others, Cal Fire said.

Numerous roads were closed, including State Route 140 between Carstens Road and Allred Road — one 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.

“PG&E is unable to access the affected equipment,” the utility said as flames roared on 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% contained after burning for two weeks and moving into the the Sierra National Forest.

Firefighters help an elderly man from his car, seen at right, after he crashed into a ditch while driving away from the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

Firefighters help an elderly man from his car, seen at right, after he crashed into a ditch while driving away from the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

Firefighters help an elderly man from his car, seen at right, after he crashed into a ditch while driving away from the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

A firefighter removes a jacket from a car that crashed into a ditch while driving away from the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

A firefighter removes a jacket from a car that crashed into a ditch while driving away from the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

A firefighter removes a jacket from a car that crashed into a ditch while driving away from the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

California Highway Patrol Officer Matthew Chance walks away from a car that crashed into a ditch while driving away from the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

California Highway Patrol Officer Matthew Chance walks away from a car that crashed into a ditch while driving away from the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

California Highway Patrol Officer Matthew Chance walks away from a car that crashed into a ditch while driving away from the Oak Fire in Mariposa County Friday

Flames rise above Darrah Rd. as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County Friday

Flames rise above Darrah Rd. as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County Friday

Flames rise above Darrah Rd. as the Oak Fire burns in Mariposa County Friday

An air tanker flies above the Oak Fire burning in Mariposa County Friday

An air tanker flies above the Oak Fire burning in Mariposa County Friday

An air tanker flies above the Oak Fire burning in Mariposa County Friday

A firefighter runs to extinguish flames as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County Friday

A firefighter runs to extinguish flames as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County Friday

A firefighter runs to extinguish flames as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County Friday

Flames leap from trees as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Road in Mariposa County Friday

Flames leap from trees as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Road in Mariposa County Friday

Flames leap from trees as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Road in Mariposa County Friday

A structure burns as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County Friday

A structure burns as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County Friday

A structure burns as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County Friday

Smoke from the Oak Fire rises above Mariposa in Mariiposa County Friday

Smoke from the Oak Fire rises above Mariposa in Mariiposa County Friday

Smoke from the Oak Fire rises above Mariposa in Mariiposa County Friday

‘Explosive’ California wildfire near Yosemite spirals out of control’ as firefighters fight blaze Source link ‘Explosive’ California wildfire near Yosemite spirals out of control’ as firefighters fight blaze

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