Firefighters contain 10% of growing fire near Yosemite

Crews battling the massive, still-growing oak tree fire near Yosemite National Park reported positive progress for the first time Monday morning, containing 10% of the nearly 17,000-acre blaze.

The inferno in the Sierra Nevada foothills, which has forced thousands to flee their homes and destroyed at least 10 buildings, has grown by 1,000 acres since late Sunday, Cal Fire officials reported. The fire had no containment on Sunday.

“We’ve allocated more resources to the fire — that certainly helped,” Jonathan Pierce, public information officer with Cal Fire’s Incident Management Team 5, said Monday morning. “The crews have done a lot of hard work.”

Nearly 2,600 firefighters are working the wildfire, Pierce said, with crews prioritizing protecting nearby communities in central Mariposa County, southwest of Yosemite. More than 3,200 buildings remain at risk from the flames.

The Oak fire started near Midpines on Friday and quickly became California’s biggest fire of the season so far. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County on Sunday.

Officials were unable to determine what caused the fire.

Pierce said humidity stayed low overnight on Sunday, which didn’t help firefighting, and he wasn’t expecting any major weather changes. Hot temperatures, low humidity, and vegetation parched by drought have fueled the fire.

“There are parts of the fire where the behavior is declining, but there are parts of the fire that are still active, more extreme,” Pierce said. He said long-distance sighting — firebrands, or embers blown outside the main fire area that can start fires — remains a problem.

The Red Cross has opened a shelter for those displaced by the oak fire at Mariposa Elementary School, where evacuees can also bring small animals. According to Cal Fire, people can bring large animals to the Mariposa County Fairgrounds.

The Washburn Fire, which started not far from the Oak Fire but in Yosemite National Park earlier this month, is about 80% contained. It had threatened the park’s largest grove of ancient redwoods, but officials say the trees are expected to survive. Firefighters contain 10% of growing fire near Yosemite

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