Thousands were forced to evacuate in remote mountain communities near Yosemite National Park, as one of California’s biggest wildfires this year expanded to over 14,000 acres on Sunday amid sweltering temperatures and low humidity. The Oak Fire began Friday in Mariposa County, near the small town of Midpines. California Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for Mariposa County because of the fire, and over 6,000 people in the remote Sierra Nevada foothills were evacuated.
Twelve miles east, firefighters fought against the Washburn Fire near Yosemite that threatened the park’s largest and most iconic sequoia grove. According to Cal Fire, the Washburn Fire is 80% contained after two weeks of firefighting, but the Oak Fire remains 0% contained as of Sunday afternoon.
2,000 firefighters are battling the blaze under tough conditions including low humidity, high temperatures, and steep terrain. Cal Fire has also dispatched 17 helicopters, 225 fire engines, 58 dozers, and 23 water tenders to fight the Oak Fire. Cal Fire spokesperson Natasha Fouts said Sunday “It’s hot out there again today. And the fuel moisture levels are critically low…and because it’s so dry, it’s easy for the spot fires to get established and that’s what fuels the growth.”
Cal Fire confirmed that as of Sunday afternoon, the fire had destroyed 10 residential and commercial structures and damaged five. Pacific Gas & Electric said on its website that more than 3,100 homes and businesses in the area had lost power, with no indication when it would be restored.
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