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Oak Fire at Yosemite National Park explodes in size, evacuations ordered

A fast-moving brush fire near Yosemite National Park exploded in large Saturday in one of California‘s largest wildfires of the year, prompting evacuation orders for thousands of people and knocking out power to more than 2,000 homes and businesses.

The Oak Fire started Friday afternoon southwest of the park near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County and had rapidly grown to 10.2 square miles by Saturday morning, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.

“Fire activity is extreme,” Cal Fire said in a situation report on Saturday, noting that the wildfire is zero percent contained. ‘Explosive fire behavior challenges firefighters.’

The origin of the wildfire is being investigated. It erupted as firefighters made progress against an earlier fire burning at the edge of a grove of giant sequoias in the southernmost part of Yosemite park.

A house burns as the Oak Fire moves through the area on Saturday near Mariposa, California

Firefighters work on Saturday as the site of the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California

Firefighters work on Saturday as the site of the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California

Firefighter Joanna Jimenez holds a dog she found while wandering into a fire evacuation zone as the Oak Fire burns on Saturday

Firefighter Joanna Jimenez holds a dog she found while wandering into a fire evacuation zone as the Oak Fire burns on Saturday

An aerial view from an airplane of the Oak Fire at Yosemite National Park, taken from above Yosemite Valley, California

An aerial view from an airplane of the Oak Fire at Yosemite National Park, taken from above Yosemite Valley, California

The burn zone of the Oak Fire near Midpines is seen Saturday after the wildfire exploded in size

The burn zone of the Oak Fire near Midpines is seen Saturday after the wildfire exploded in size

Evacuation orders were put into effect Saturday for more than 6,000 people who live within a several-mile stretch of the sparsely populated, rural area, said Daniel Patterson, a spokesman for the Sierra National Forest.

Cal Fire described the activity of the Oak Fire as ‘extreme with frequent runs, spot fires and group flares.’

By Saturday morning, the fire had destroyed 10 residential and commercial structures, damaged five others and threatened 2,000 more structures, Cal Fire said.

The fire caused several road closures, including a closure of Highway 140 between Carstens Road and Allred Road – blocking one of the main routes into Yosemite.

More than 400 firefighters, along with helicopters, other aircraft and bulldozers, were battling the blaze, which was in a sparsely populated, mostly rural area of ​​the Sierra Nevada foothills, said Daniel Patterson, a spokesman for the Sierra National Forest.

A fast-moving brush fire near Yosemite National Park exploded in size Saturday in one of California's largest wildfires of the year, prompting evacuation orders for thousands of people.

A fast-moving brush fire near Yosemite National Park exploded in size Saturday in one of California’s largest wildfires of the year, prompting evacuation orders for thousands of people.

A house burns as the Oak Fire moves through the area on Saturday near Mariposa, California. The fast-moving Oak Fire burning outside Yosemite National Park has forced evacuations

A house burns as the Oak Fire moves through the area on Saturday near Mariposa, California. The fast-moving Oak Fire burning outside Yosemite National Park has forced evacuations

The Oak Fire started Friday afternoon southwest of the park near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County and had grown rapidly to 10.2 square miles by Saturday morning

The Oak Fire started Friday afternoon southwest of the park near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County and had grown rapidly to 10.2 square miles by Saturday morning

“Fire activity is extreme,” Cal Fire said in a situation report on Saturday, noting that the wildfire is zero percent contained. ‘Explosive fire behavior challenges firefighters’

Hot weather, low humidity and bone-dry vegetation caused by the worst drought in decades fueled the fire and challenged firefighters, Patterson said.

California has experienced increasingly large and deadly wildfires in recent years as climate change has made the West much hotter and drier over the past 30 years.

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

‘The fire goes fast. This fire threw up to 2 miles of glass in front of itself yesterday,’ Patterson said. ‘These are exceptional fire conditions.’ The cause of the fire was investigated.

Allison Baggett watches the Oak Fire burn near her home in Mariposa, California before evacuating Friday night

Allison Baggett watches the Oak Fire burn near her home in Mariposa, California before evacuating Friday night

Mariposa County residents are preparing to evacuate as the Oak Fire grows in size on Friday night

Mariposa County residents are preparing to evacuate as the Oak Fire grows in size on Friday night

Mariposa County residents are preparing to evacuate as the Oak Fire grows in size on Friday night

A house burns as the Oak Fire moves through the area on Saturday near Mariposa, California

A house burns as the Oak Fire moves through the area on Saturday near Mariposa, California

Firefighters mop up a hot spot as the Oak Fire moves through the area on Saturday

Firefighters mop up a hot spot as the Oak Fire moves through the area on Saturday

By Saturday morning, the fire had destroyed 10 residential and commercial structures, damaged five others and threatened 2,000 more structures, Cal Fire said

By Saturday morning, the fire had destroyed 10 residential and commercial structures, damaged five others and threatened 2,000 more structures, Cal Fire said

An airplane slows down while fighting the Oak Fire in Mariposa County on Friday night

An airplane slows down while fighting the Oak Fire in Mariposa County on Friday night

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 there was no indication when it would be restored.

“PG&E is unable to access the affected equipment,” the utility said.

An elderly man without shoes who tried to flee the fire on Friday crashed his sedan into a ditch in a closed area and was helped by firefighters.

He was driven safely from the area and did not appear to have any injuries. Several other residents remained in their homes on Friday night, while the fire continued to burn in the neighborhood.

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

Firefighters watch as the Oak Fire burns in Darrah in Mariposa County on Saturday

Firefighters watch as the Oak Fire burns in Darrah in Mariposa County on Saturday

A Cal Fire firefighter puts out a back fire while battling the Oak Fire on Saturday near Mariposa, California

A Cal Fire firefighter puts out a back fire while battling the Oak Fire on Saturday near Mariposa, California

More than 400 firefighters, along with helicopters, other aircraft and bulldozers, battled the blaze, which was in a sparsely populated, mostly rural area of ​​the Sierra Nevada foothills.

More than 400 firefighters, along with helicopters, other aircraft and bulldozers, battled the blaze, which was in a sparsely populated, mostly rural area of ​​the Sierra Nevada foothills.

A firefighter extinguishes flames as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County on Friday

A firefighter extinguishes flames as the Oak Fire crosses Darrah Rd. in Mariposa County on Friday

A view of a burned home after the Oak Fire moved through the area near Mariposa, California

A view of a burned home after the Oak Fire moved through the area near Mariposa, California

The Washburn Fire was 79 percent contained Friday after burning about 7.5 square kilometers of forest.

It was one of the largest fires of the year in California, along with the Lost Lake Fire in Riverside County that was completely contained in June at 9 square miles.

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

Wawona Road is tentatively set to reopen on Saturday, according to the park’s website.

Oak Fire at Yosemite National Park explodes in size, evacuations ordered

Source link Oak Fire at Yosemite National Park explodes in size, evacuations ordered

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