Oak Fire near Yosemite National Park burns nearly 12,000 acres


About 6,000 people have been ordered to evacuate due to a wildfire burning thousands of acres near Yosemite National Park and defying firefighters working to put out the flames.

The Oak Fire began Friday afternoon and by Saturday night had burned nearly 12,000 acres outside of Yosemite, according to Cal Fire.

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County on Saturday. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is also providing resources to extinguish the fire, Newsom said.

Cal Fire spokeswoman Natasha Fouts said 6,062 people were evacuated from the area as of Saturday morning. It also threatened 2,000 structures, including residential and commercial buildings, as of Saturday, Fouts said.

Yosemite’s Grizzly Giant has seen a lot. Now fire threatens the iconic tree.

The wildfire had destroyed 10 structures and damaged five by Saturday evening, according to the department. None of this was contained.

Since the start of the fire, a team has been working all night to evacuate the inhabitants. Firefighters are seeing “explosive fire behavior,” meaning the wildfire has developed large plumes of smoke and water that stretch above the fire.

“This particular fire just had a really dangerous spread rate,” Fouts said.

It’s peak fire season in California, where climate change has increased the intensity and frequency of wildfires.

Mariposa County has seen several large wildfires in recent years, including the Rim Fire of 2013, which is among the 20 largest wildfires in California.

This month, a wildfire in Yosemite threatened hundreds of giant sequoias in Mariposa Grove, the park’s largest grove. On Friday, firefighters took command of the Washburn blaze, which began on July 7, according to the incident management team.

The fire started near Midpines along Highway 140, one of the routes to Yosemite. The highway is closed, along with more than 10 other roads.

Bryan Pietsch contributed to this report.

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