Fast-spreading oak fire destroys 10 structures

A fast-growing wildfire in California near Yosemite National Park destroyed 10 structures overnight Friday and threatened 2,000 others, ...

A fast-growing wildfire in California near Yosemite National Park destroyed 10 structures overnight Friday and threatened 2,000 others, authorities said.

The blaze, called the Oak Fire, started at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon in Midpines in Mariposa County, about 70 miles north of Fresno and about 10 miles from Yosemite near the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The fire spread overnight to 6,555 acres, or more than 10 square miles, according to a report from CalFire, the state fire agency. As of 11 p.m. Friday, it had covered just over 4,000 acres.

The “explosive nature” of the blaze posed a challenge to the 400 firefighters and four helicopters that were deployed, CalFire said. As of Saturday morning, the fire was zero percent contained, the agency said in an update. Natasha Fouts, spokeswoman for CalFire, said it was the fastest growing fire of the season so far, outpacing the speed of the washing light which continued to burn in Yosemite National Park.

On social media, residents shared images of an ominous plume of smoke that quickly rose above an orange and red sky after the blaze started.

Evacuation orders have been issued for an area stretching several miles from the blaze and authorities have closed several roads. It was not known if any residents suffered injuries. An American Red Cross station was opened at Mariposa Elementary School. In addition to the structures that were destroyed, five others were damaged.

Fire officials did not expect to contain the blaze until next week, Ms Fouts said.

While wildfires occur every year across the West, the link between climate change and larger fires is inextricable. Wildfires are increasing in size and intensity in the western United States, and wildfire seasons are getting longer. Recent research has suggested that heat and drought associated with global warming are the main reasons for the increase in bigger and stronger fires.

“Global warming is turning landscapes into powder kegs,” said a report published in February by climatologists in the United Nations Environment Program.

Experts said it could be one of the most years of brutal fire in the state, since California is in the midst of a severe drought and the summer has been extremely hot. Those Conditions have made the past two fire seasons particularly destructive, killing a total of 36 people and destroying more than 14,700 buildings in the state.

The cause of the Oak Fire is still under investigation, but a report on Friday evening said vegetation in the area was “very receptive to new spot fires due to hot, dry weather and drought”, and that heavy fuels, strong winds and low humidity also influenced fire behavior. All of Mariposa County is experiencing a drought, according to the National Integrated Drought Information Systema government agency, and it was the driest year on record for the county.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Fast-spreading oak fire destroys 10 structures
Fast-spreading oak fire destroys 10 structures
Newsrust - US Top News
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