Firefighters battling wildfire near drought-stricken Yosemite National Park report progress
(Reuters) – Crews battling a wildfire on the outskirts of Yosemite National Park in central California reported progress Saturday containing the blaze though evacuation orders for about 700 homes remain in effect, officials said.
The blaze, named the Bridge Fire, was 25 percent contained and holding steady at 300 acres (120 hectares), one day after it erupted in Mariposa County near Oakhurst, some 14 miles (22.5 kilometers) southwest of the national park, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CalFire).
The fire was threatening about 700 homes and evacuation orders for those residents would stay in place until firefighters deemed the area safe enough to return, said CalFire spokesman Dennis Mathisen.
The Bridge Fire was burning near where a fast-moving blaze last month forced thousands of people out of their homes and businesses in the well-populated region south of Yosemite.
“The difference between the Bridge Fire and last month’s Junction Fire is that this fire is a little more rural and the structures threatened are in a residential area,” Mathisen said.
No structures had been damaged and one person had sustained minor injuries, officials said.
The cause of the blaze was unknown.
Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency as firefighters battled wildfires across the state, including the massive El Portal blaze that charred nearly 4,700 acres on the western edge of Yosemite National Park.
With federal funds for fighting wildfires running low, officials in California on Thursday called on Congress to move forward on a stalled plan to set up an emergency reserve fund for battling the extreme blazes anticipated this fall.
Concern about funds for firefighting are growing as danger from wildfires increases throughout the western United States, and as the fire season reaches its peak amid a devastating drought that has left dry, combustible fuel easily ignited.
(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
[Image via AFP]