Oak Fire near Yosemite becomes largest in California this year

SAN FRANCISCO — After growing explosively to become California’s biggest blaze so far in 2022, a blaze in the Sierra Nevada foothills mo...


SAN FRANCISCO — After growing explosively to become California’s biggest blaze so far in 2022, a blaze in the Sierra Nevada foothills moderated on Sunday, with firefighters able to defend communities to a dozen miles from Yosemite National Park.

The Oak Fire, which ignited and spread rapidly on Friday, has burned a total of 16,800 acres and could still threaten 3,300 homes and businesses. As of Monday morning, seven structures had been destroyed – an earlier estimate said 10 – and more than 3,000 residents had been ordered to evacuate.

Cal Fire, the state’s lead firefighting agency, said in a statement late Sunday that firefighters had made “good progress” against the blaze and that protective cleanup by fire crews was protecting small communities of Lushmeadows and Mariposa Pines.

“The fire continued to be active, but yesterday afternoon it slowed down and moderated,” Capt. Jon Heggie, Cal Fire battalion chief, said by phone Monday morning. “But the potential for growth still exists, and we will continue to fight this fire aggressively.”

Cal Fire said it expects full containment by Saturday, an encouraging sign of a blaze that seemed out of control just days ago.

Among those who stepped up to help evacuees and others affected by the fire was a group that the Mariposa Sheriff’s Office identified as a private local militia.

“The public should be aware that the Militia has not been activated or asked to act for any purpose by the Sheriff’s Office or any agency working on the Oak Fire,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a posting. on Facebook.

The fire closed a highway leading to Yosemite, which is still recovering from the Washburn fire. That fire started earlier this month and at one point threatened the Mariposa Grove of the park’s redwoods, some of the oldest trees in the world. The Washburn fire is now mostly out.

As California slipped into a second year of spring drought, officials warned of a potentially catastrophic fire season in 2022 across the state’s parched landscape. But so far this year, the state has managed to avoid the kind of mega-fire it has seen in recent years.

Last year at this time, the state was fight the Dixie firewhich burned nearly a million acres – more than 60 times the area of ​​the Oak Fire – and carved out the Sierra to scorch the eastern slopes of the mountain range, a relatively rare event.

The Oak Fire is by far the largest wildfire in the state so far this year, surpassing the Washburn Fire, which burned 4,900 acres, according to a Cal Fire tally.

However, July is still early in the state’s traditional fire season, which lasts through the summer and into the fall, when the threat of more life-threatening wind-driven wildfires looms large. .

California forests have always burned in the dry months. But a combination of rising temperatures due to climate change and an abundance of flammable vegetation – including tens of millions of trees that were killed in a previous drought a decade ago – have made forests of the state particularly vulnerable to fire. Sixty percent of the state’s land area is classified by the federal government as being in extreme drought conditions.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Oak Fire near Yosemite becomes largest in California this year
Oak Fire near Yosemite becomes largest in California this year
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