HomeTechnologyFirefighters reduce growth of California fire near Yosemite

Firefighters reduce growth of California fire near Yosemite


JERSEYDALE, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters have significantly slowed the spread of a large wildfire burning in a forest near Yosemite National Park, where thousands of residents of mountain communities were still under evacuation orders Monday. and the smoke spread for hundreds of kilometers around.

Crews “made good progress” against the Oak Fire, according to a Sunday night incident report from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. “The fire activity was not as extreme as in previous days.”

But smoke from the fire traveled more than 200 miles (322 kilometers) and reached Lake Tahoe, parts of Nevada and the San Francisco Bay area, authorities said.

“It’s been terrible with air quality,” said Kim Zagaris, an adviser to the Western Fire Chiefs Association, which maps wildfires across the country.

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More than 2,500 firefighters with aircraft support were battling the fire that broke out last Friday southwest of the park, near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County. Authorities described “explosive fire behavior” on Saturday as flames ripped through bone-dry vegetation caused by the worst drought in decades.

By Monday morning, the fire had consumed more than 26 square miles (67 square kilometers) of forest land, with 10% containment, Cal Fire said. The cause was under investigation.

Firefighters working on steep terrain on the ground protected homes Sunday as tanker trucks dumped retardant on 50-foot (15-meter) flames that raced along ridgelines east of the small community of Jerseydale. Crews face tough conditions including steep terrain, sweltering temperatures and low humidity, Cal Fire said.

There are two major fires burning in California, which is seeing a fairly typical surge in what is sure to be a year of active fires once California’s infamous Santa Ana and Diablo wind events begin in September, Zagaris said.

“We have been lucky. We are not as far along as we were at this time last year,” she said. “But the fuels, the vegetation, are much drier than last year. It’s so dry out there.”

Zagaris compared wildfires in California this year to those of 2008, when few flames burned early, but a mid-summer lightning storm hit the state “and before we knew it there were 2,000 fires burning in the northern part of the state.” “.

Evacuations were underway Monday for more than 6,000 people living in a several-mile stretch of the sparsely populated fire zone in the Sierra Nevada foothills, though a handful of residents defied orders and stayed behind, said Adrienne Freeman, a spokeswoman. from the US Forest Service

“We urge people to evacuate when instructed to do so,” he said.

Jane and Wes Smith lost their home of more than 37 years and Jane only had enough time to pack up her two horses and flee, according to her son, Nick Smith, SFGate reported.

Wes Smith is a coordinator for Mariposa County Emergency Services and was working on the fire response as his home burned.

The couple “has lost everything. 37 years of memories, generations of family treasures, and countless more sentimental things,” her son said on a GoFundMe page.

The flames destroyed at least 10 residential and commercial structures and damaged five others, Cal Fire said. Assessment teams were moving through mountain villages to check for additional damage, Fouts said.

Numerous highways were closed, including a section of State Route 140 that is one of the main routes into Yosemite.

California has experienced increasingly large and deadly wildfires in recent years as climate change has made the West much hotter and drier in the past 30 years. Scientists have said that the weather will continue to be more extreme and wildfires will become more frequent, destructive and unpredictable.

Pacific Gas & Electric said on its website that more than 2,600 homes and businesses in the area had lost power as of Monday and there was no indication when it would be restored.

The Oak Fire started as firefighters advanced against an earlier blaze, the Washburn Fire, which burned to the edge of a giant sequoia grove in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park.

The latest fire, covering an area of ​​7.5 square miles (19 square kilometers), was 87% contained Monday after burning for two weeks and moving into the Sierra National Forest.

Weber reported from Los Angeles.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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