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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Thousands ordered to flee California wildfires near Yosemite

A fast-moving brush fire near Yosemite National Park engulfed one of California’s biggest wildfires of the year, prompting evacuation orders for thousands of people and shutting down power to more than 2,000 homes and businesses.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, the Oak Fire began southwest of the park near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County on Friday afternoon and quickly grew to 10.2 square miles (26.5 square kilometers) on Saturday morning. Gone. The blaze as firefighters progressed against an earlier fire burning to the edge of a grove of giant sequoias in the southernmost part of Yosemite Park.

Firefighter Joanna Jimenez holds a dog she found wandering in a fire rescue area as the oak fire burns in Mariposa County, Calif., July 23, 2022.

Daniel Patterson, a spokesman for the Sierra National Forest, said an evacuation order had been put in place on Saturday for more than 6,000 people living several miles away in a sparsely populated rural area.

“Explosive fire behavior is challenging firefighters,” Cal Fire said in a statement Saturday morning, describing Oak Fire’s activity as “extreme with frequent runs, spot fires and group torching.”

Cal Fire said that as of Saturday morning, the fire had destroyed 10 residential and commercial structures, damaged five others and threatened 2,000 more structures. The fire closed several roads, including the closure of Highway 140 between Carsten Road and Alled Road – blocking one of the main thoroughfares in Yosemite.

Daniel Patterson, a spokesman for the Sierra National Forest, said more than 400 firefighters with helicopters, other aircraft and bulldozers doused the blaze, which was mostly rural in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

A Plane Drops A Retardant While Battling The Oak Fire In Mariposa County, California, July 22, 2022.

A plane drops a retardant while battling the Oak Fire in Mariposa County, California, July 22, 2022.

Patterson said bone-dry vegetation was fueling the fires and challenging firefighters, due to hot weather, low humidity and the worst drought in decades. 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 more frequent, destructive and unpredictable.

“The fire is growing fast. This fire was throwing embers in front of it for 2 miles yesterday,” Patterson said. “These are extraordinary fire conditions.” The cause of the fire was being investigated.

Pacific Gas & Electric said on its website that more than 2,600 homes and businesses in the area had power outages as of Friday afternoon and there was no indication when it would be restored. “PG&E is unable to reach the affected devices,” the utility said.

On Friday, a brazen old man trying to escape the fire dropped his sedan into a ditch in a closed area and was helped by firefighters. He was ejected safely from the area and did not suffer any injuries. Several other residents stayed in their homes on Friday night as the fire continued to spread nearby.

Flames Engulf A Chair Inside A Burning Home As The Oak Fire Burns On July 23, 2022 In Mariposa County, Calif.

Flames engulf a chair inside a burning home as the oak fire burns on July 23, 2022 in Mariposa County, Calif.

Meanwhile, firefighters have made significant progress against wildfires that began in Yosemite National Park and continue to burn in the Sierra National Forest.

Friday’s Washburn Fire was up 79% 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, along with the Lost Lake Fire in Riverside County, which completely covered 9 square miles (23 square kilometers) in June.

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

According to the park’s website, Wawona Road is likely to reopen on Saturday.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.`

World Nation News Desk
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