Yosemite Fire Closes Highway 140

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (AP) — A stretch of highway leading into one of the main entrances into Yosemite National Park was closed Thursday as a wildfire burned through a rugged area of heavy brush and timber outside the park.

The blaze has consumed about 1,000 acres along Highway 140 since it was first reported a little before 1 p.m. Thursday, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Stanton Florea said.

More firefighters were being sent to the area, with about 300 on scene by Thursday evening. Aircraft were also called in to help, with 13 planes and helicopters battling the blaze.

Fire officials considered the wildfire to be zero percent contained Thursday evening, with no estimate when they would be able to contain the blaze.

“It’s difficult terrain, it’s very steep.” said Florea.

The California Highway Patrol closed Highway 140 for a stretch of nearly 15 miles from just outside the park entrance to an area known as the “Octagon,” said CHP Officer Jesse Fouch.

The fire started just outside the park near the community of El Portal when a motorhome caught fire, said Fouch. He could not say when the stretch of highway would be open to traffic again. No injuries have been reported.

No homes or structures in El Portal were considered to be threatened, but officials have issued what Florea described as a “precautionary evacuation” to residents of about two dozen homes in the tiny community.

The wildfire was burning in the Sierra National Forest, but was not within Yosemite’s boundaries, said Flores.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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