Wildfire forces evacuation of California

Wildfire forces evacuation of California
The famous Horsetail Fall at the Yosemite National Park in California
PHOTO: Rayo Photography

Authorities ordered the evacuation of a small town in the foothills flanking Yosemite National Park on Tuesday and closed a highway as crews battled an out-of-control wildfire that has already destroyed one structure.

Residents of tiny Mariposa, in the Sierra Nevada mountains southwest of Yosemite in central California, were ordered to flee after flames from the so-called Detwiler Fire jumped over Highway 140 and marched toward the community.

"Fire activity continued to grow throughout the night due to ample fuel, and steep terrain," the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said on its tracking website. "Today firefighters expect unfavorable weather conditions and aggressive fire behaviour."

The Detwiler Fire, which broke out on Sunday afternoon and has since blackened 19,500 acres (7,891 hectares) of forest land, was only about five per cent contained as of Tuesday afternoon, according to Cal Fire, and also posed a threat to several other small foothill communities.

Cal Fire said utility lines supplying power to the national park were also in the path of the flames.

There were no immediate details on the structure destroyed or another listed as damaged. Highway 49 was closed in sections except to residents. "I haven't seen these conditions in a long time, it's a wind-driven, slope-driven, fuel-driven fire,"

Jerry Fernandez with Cal Fire told an ABC affiliate in Fresno The Detwiler was among more than three dozen major, out-of-control wildfires burning across the US West as windy, dry conditions prompted authorities to issue evacuation orders and red flag warnings in California, Oregon and Nevada.

Flames have charred more than twice as much land in California so far in 2017 compared with the same time last year, according to Cal Fire.

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