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UPDATED: Crews Make Gains On Sand And Yosemite Fires

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SHINGLE SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — Some firefighters battling a Northern California wildfire that prompted evacuation orders for more than 400 homes before it was brought under control were dispatched to other fires, while evacuation orders for about half of the homes in the path of a blaze in Yosemite National Park were lifted.

Fire officials on Tuesday reported good progress against both blazes. The fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento was 80 percent contained and holding at a little under 6 square miles.

Crews discovered six more homes destroyed by the fire, bringing the total to 19, state fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean said. The fire, which began Friday, also has claimed 48 outbuildings.

McLean said some firefighters were released Monday and more were expected to be taken off the blaze Tuesday. The total fire force was down to about 1,600, about 300 fewer firefighters than Sunday.

The Yosemite fire about 100 miles away, meanwhile, has burned through nearly 5 square miles and was 19 percent contained.

Residents of the community of Old El Portal were allowed to return home at 9 a.m. Tuesday. About 45 homes in the community of Foresta remain evacuated, park fire information spokeswoman Jennifer Wuchner said.

Both fires grew rapidly over the weekend before they were brought under control, underscoring the tinder-dry conditions resulting from California’s third year of drought. Residents of the Sierra foothills fire said they were forced to evacuate quickly, and some vowed to keep a list of items to take with them if another fire hits in the future.

Laurel Fulton, a 66-year-old evacuee, had to leave behind an obstinate horse.

“When the sheriff is banging on your window yelling, ‘Get out now, get out now,’ you don’t have much of a choice,” Fulton said.

Fulton said the fire was so hot and so fast, the sand along a nearby river burned to glass, and she saw ashes the size of dollar bills. She managed to rescue four dogs, a cat and her other horse. She said her neighbor stayed behind and has been reporting that her horse is OK.

Most of the 1,200 or so evacuees were allowed to return home. Only a small number of evacuees on one street remained out of their homes Tuesday, McLean said.

Fire crews also were battling a 3-square-mile blaze in the Sierra National Forest about 60 miles northeast of Fresno that shut down some campgrounds and was threatening 28 structures, some of them homes.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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