Wildfire near Yosemite destroys 12 homes
Firefighters are still trying to fight a wildfire near Yosemite National Park. The blaze has already destroyed 12 homes. 2000 homes are being threatened by the fire. Apparently, two women who went into the woods to shoot rocks with their rifle may have started the fire.
Firefighters are continuing their efforts this morning to contain a wildfire burning near a main entrance to Yosemite National Park that has already destroyed at least 12 homes and 27 outbuildings near the town of Midpines.
The blaze, called the Telegraph fire, is threatening 2,000 residences in the heavily forested area, said Kevin Colburn, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry.
Today, firefighters will be contending with low humidity, temperatures reaching 97 degrees and winds of 7 to 12 miles per hour, he said. The fire was 10% contained this morning.
But Billy See, chief of operations for the the Forestry Department, said he hoped today would be a turning point in the fire.
"Yesterday was a good day, he said. "If we get the same production today that we did yesterday, we may begin to get a handle on this."
See said it was critical to focus on the area near the Merced River on the blaze's western border, which is closest to residential areas.
"We really need to shut that back door off," he said.
Fire officials are planning a community meeting tonight at Mariposa High School to answer residents' questions and provide an update on their efforts.
With smoke and ashes blanketing much of the area Sunday, authorities had cut power to the park.
The blaze appeared to have begun late Friday when two men and two women went into remote woods to shoot rocks with a rifle, authorities said. A bullet, investigators said, may have fragmented on a rock and cast a spark into dry brush.
"This time of year, with the dry conditions, just one spark can become a large fire," fire agency spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
Two UH-60 Blackhawks from the Louisiana National Guard departed the Mather Flight Facility here on Sunday to support Cal Fire operations in the Yosemite Valley near Midpines.
The fire, which grew from about 1,000 acres to around 10,000 acres on Saturday, forced the evacuation of 170 homes and is threatening more, fire officials told the Associated Press. Midpines is located along Highway 140, which leads to the west entrance of Yosemite National Park,
Aircraft from the 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Brigade of Pineville, La., which completed fire support missions in Butte County July 25, will operate from Mariposa Airport performing tasks as requested by Cal Fire.
“During Hurricane Katrina, we had great support from all the other National Guard states and to be able to come out here and return that favor and support the state of California and Cal Fire and the California National Guard is a great opportunity,” said Maj. Joseph Brocato, the unit commander.