Roundup: California’s wildfire burning rapidly near Yosemite National Park

LOS ANGELES, July 23– A fast-moving wildfire grew to 6,555 acres overnight near Yosemite National Park in the western U.S. state of California, prompting mandatory evacuation orders. The wildfire, dubbed the Oak Fire, ignited Friday afternoon in central California’s Mariposa County and was still zero contained as of Saturday morning, said the California…

LOS ANGELES, July 23 (Xinhua) — A fast-moving wildfire grew to 6,555 acres (about 26.5 square km) overnight near Yosemite National Park in the western U.S. state of California, prompting mandatory evacuation orders.

The wildfire, dubbed the Oak Fire, ignited Friday afternoon in central California’s Mariposa County and was still zero contained as of Saturday morning, said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

It is about 50 km away from Yosemite Valley, near Yosemite National Park, one of the most popular national parks in the United States.

The blaze had destroyed at least 10 structures and damaged another five by Saturday morning, threatening 2,000 other structures, Cal Fire said.

“Fire activity is extreme with frequent runs, spot fires and group torching. Emergency personnel are working to safely evacuate people and are actively engaged in protecting structures,” said Cal Fire, noting that explosive fire behavior is challenging over 400 firefighters on the spot.

It is now “one of California’s largest wildfires of the year,” said the Los Angeles Times, the biggest newspaper on U.S. West Coast.

Some residents were forced to temporarily evacuate and some roads in the area, including one major highway to Yosemite, were closed.

“The fire has been coming towards us faster and faster,” Wes Detamore, a resident of Mariposa Pines, was quoted as saying by KFSN-TV, a TV station in the nearby city of Fresno.

With the Oak Fire, the streak of relatively modest and non-destructive wildfires in California so far this season appears to be over, tweeted Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, adding that record vegetation dryness and less stable atmospheric conditions will likely favor plume-dominated behavior at times.

He estimated that the Oak Fire will very likely surpass 10,000 acres (around 40.46 square km) in less than 24 hours.

Another explosive wildfire, the Washburn Fire, has burned over 4,850 acres (19.6 square km) to date with 79 percent contained in over two weeks near Yosemite National Park.

The Washburn Fire has drawn national attention as hundreds of firefighters are battling the blaze to protect some of the world’s oldest and largest trees in the park.

Much of the United States, from coast to coast, is being scorched by a heat wave this week. Enditem

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