MARIPOSA, Calif. (AP) — Scores of additional homes have been evacuated and hundreds more firefighters called in, as a wildfire near the main route into Yosemite National Park in the Sierra foothills shows no signs of abating, a state fire official said on Tuesday.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant estimated the number of additional homes evacuated on Monday evening at a couple of hundred although he said he did not have an exact number. That’s in addition to 150 homes evacuated since the fire began on Sunday.
The blaze six miles northeast of Mariposa has burned 2 and ½ square miles and remains 15 percent contained. It is being fought by 2,200 firefighters, up from more than 700 on Monday, Berlant said. Crews are clearing brush to create defensive space around homes, laying fire line and dropping retardant from the air.
“Mother Nature is definitely giving us a run for our money,” Berlant said. Though temperatures are down, wind gusts of up to 20 miles per hours coupled with dry conditions could fuel the fire, he said.
No structures have been damaged or destroyed. One firefighter suffered a minor injury.
Highway 140 into Yosemite National Park remains open.
Samantha Weber, who lives in Midpines, a rugged, unincorporated area about 35 miles west of Yosemite, said she knew the fire was headed for her home when she saw charred leaves drifting at her.
“I saw entire leaves that are blackened and blistered just floating through the air,” Weber told the San Francisco Chronicle. “They looked like birds.”
The fire was helped by swirling winds and dry conditions that residents said are severe and arrived surprisingly early this year.
“It is kind of always dry here in the summer,” Weber said. “But it was an especially dry spring, so things are really dry.”
Ed Helms, his wife and three adult children were told to evacuate their home in Hites Cove on Sunday as they celebrated Father’s Day in the backyard.
“We had to leave the steaks we were cooking on the barbecue to pack up and get out,” Helms told the Modesto Bee.
The Red Cross has set up a shelter in Mariposa for evacuees.
The exact cause of the fire has yet to be determined.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.