STANISLAUS NATIONAL FOREST (CBS13/AP) — Flames and smoke forced thousands from their homes and campsites as the Rim Fire grows bigger and rages out of control for a sixth straight day. Officials say the fire has crossed into Yosemite, according to the incident website.
Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Deputies went door-to-door on Thursday, telling people to leave their homes. Approximately 4,500 structures are being threatened.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the fire that has burned 125,620 acres—growing five times larger since Wednesday—and is only 1 percent contained.
The fire northeast of Groveland in the Stanislaus National Forest has closed a 4-mile stretch of Highway 120, one main path into Yosemite on the west side.
The Rim Fire is racing in every direction, raging out of control.
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The plume of smoke dwarfs everything around it, rising 40,000 feet in the air. Flames from the fire are 600 feet high, according to one firefighter.
Longtime local Ed Connery is packed and ready to go at a moment’s notice.
“I’m seeing danger,” he said. “Trees going up as if a flamethrower hit ’em.”
Hot spots flared up along Highway 120 near Yosemite, but the major concern is the wildfire’s push toward the small community of Pine Mountain Lake.
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“With a few thousand homes nearby, this is one spot firefighters are clearly preparing to make a stand. Dozers are hard at work clearing containment lines, should the flames hope across the canyon.
For the first time, an evacuation order is in place for hundreds of homes in Pine Mountain Lake, with an evacuation advisory in effect for 2,500 homes. Steve Costa is one of the residents reluctantly leaving.
“Gotta have my dog with me. She’s gotta go, right Dakota?”
But others are stubbornly ignoring the warnings to leave as an out-of-control inferno creeps closer by the minute.
“Where am I gonna go?”
Yosemite can still be accessed via state Routes 140 and 41 from the west, as well as State Route 120 from the east side.
The Yosemite County Tourism Bureau based in Mariposa has been helping tourists displaced by the fire to find new accommodations in other park-area towns, said director Terry Selk.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.