AN active wildfire near Yosemite National Park has prompted mass evacuations for thousands of California residents.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said the fire – which has been active since Friday afternoon – has already spread to 11,900 acres.
The fire has been named the Oak Fire and started near Highway 140 and Carstens Road, near Midpines.
It is now considered California’s largest fire of the state’s wildfire season and an investigation into what caused the fire is ongoing.
Mariposa County is the only evacuation zone at this time, however, the fire is zero percent contained and information can change quickly
Cal Fire said in a statement on Saturday: “Fire activity is extreme with frequent runs, spot fires and group flares.
“Emergency personnel are working to evacuate people safely and are actively engaged in protecting structures.
“Explosive fire behavior is challenging for firefighters.”
The fire destroyed 10 residential and commercial structures, along with five others damaged, by Saturday morning, Cal Fire noted.
And 2,000 additional structures are threatened as many roads are closed, including one that blocks one of the main routes to Yosemite, the United Press reports.
Meanwhile, Pacific Gas & Electric has revealed that more than 2,600 homes and businesses in the area of the fire lost power Friday afternoon.
PG&E noted that they were “unable to access the affected equipment” and it is unknown when power will be restored.
As of Saturday evening, Cal Fire has assigned four helicopters, 45 engines, four dozers, four water tenders, 11 crews and 403 personnel to the scene.
California Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County, as the Oak Fire has destroyed homes and forced more than 6,000 neighborhood residents to evacuate.
The Office of Gov. Newsom explains: “Earlier today, the governor announced that California within hours secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the fire.”
Sierra National Forest spokesman Daniel Patterson said that the evacuations were put into effect for thousands “living over a span of several kilometers in the sparsely populated, rural area.”
The fire continues to spread as the Washburn fire in Yosemite National Park threatens a forest of giant sequoia trees.
Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said in a Friday press release: “Without urgent action, wildfires could eliminate countless more iconic giant sequoias.”
He added, “We can and must do more to protect giant sequoias with all the tools and flexibilities available to us.
“This emergency action to reduce fuels before a wildfire occurs will protect unburned giant sequoia stands from the risks of raging wildfires.”
Earlier this week, two pilots died after a helicopter helped fight a wildfire in Idaho, the New York Times reports.
Thomas Hayes, a 41-year-old man from Idaho, and Jared Bird, a 26-year-old man from Alaska, were killed.
Wildfire near Yosemite National Park sparks mass evacuation and threatens 2,000 homes along with ancient sequoia trees Source link Wildfire near Yosemite National Park sparks mass evacuation and threatens 2,000 homes along with ancient sequoia trees