Thousands ordered to flee California wildfire near Yosemite

WAWONA, Calif. (AP) – A wildfire near Yosemite National Park has exploded in one of California’s worst wildfires of the year, prompting evacuation orders for thousands of people and shutting down power. more than 2,000 homes and businesses. .

The Oak Fire started Friday in the southwest part of the park near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County and by Saturday morning had grown rapidly to 10.2 square miles (26.5 square kilometers), according to the California Department of Forestry. and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. It erupted as firefighters made progress on an early fire that had burned to the edge of a giant sequoia grove in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park.

Evacuation orders were in effect Saturday for 6,000 people living within a few miles of the small, rural area, said Daniel Patterson, a spokesman for the Sierra National Forest.

“Explosive fire activity is challenging for firefighters,” Cal Fire said in a statement Saturday morning that described the Oak Fire’s activity as “a very large, frequently moving, visible fire.” and collective understanding.”

By Saturday morning, the fire had destroyed 10 homes and businesses, damaged five others and threatened 2,000 more homes, Cal Fire said. The fire triggered multiple road closures, including the closure of Highway 140 between Carstens Road and Allred Road – blocking one of the main routes into Yosemite.

More than 400 firefighters, including helicopters, other aircraft and bulldozers, fought the fire, located in a diverse population, mostly in the rural areas of the Sierra foothills. Nevada, said Daniel Patterson, a spokesman for the Sierra National Forest.

The hot weather, low humidity and dry vegetation caused by the worst drought in decades are making firefighting and equipment difficult, Patterson said. California has seen more and more deadly wildfires in recent years as the climate in the West has become warmer and drier over the past 30 years. Scientists say that the weather will continue to get worse and there will be more wildfires, destructive and unpredictable.

“The fire is moving fast. This fire was throwing debris in front of it up to 2 miles yesterday,” Patterson said. “These are special fire conditions.” The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Pacific Gas & Electric said on its website that more than 2,600 homes and businesses in the area had lost power as of Friday afternoon and had no indication when it would be restored. “PG&E has no access to affected equipment,” the utility said.

A barefoot elderly man trying to escape a fire on Friday ended up driving his bike into a ditch in a busy area and had to be helped by firefighters. He was ejected from the scene and did not appear to be injured. Some residents remained in their homes Friday night as the fire continued to burn nearby.

Meanwhile, firefighters have made significant progress in a wildfire that started in Yosemite National Park and burned through the Sierra National Forest.

The Washburn Fire was 79% contained Thursday after burning about 7.5 square miles (19.4 square kilometers) of forest. It was one of the largest fires of the year in California, with the Lost Lake Fire in Riverside County burning in June at 9 square miles (23 square kilometers).

The fire started on July 7 and forced the closure of Yosemite’s southern entrance and the evacuation of the community of Wawona as the fire on the edge of Mariposa Grove, home to hundreds of giant sequoias, the world’s largest trees by volume.

Wawona Road is scheduled to reopen Saturday, according to the park website.


Gecker delivers from San Francisco.

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Thousands ordered to flee California wildfire near Yosemite Source link Thousands ordered to flee California wildfire near Yosemite

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