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Latest: California’s Oak Fire rages near Yosemite as thousands flee to safety

California’s Midpines has a new mayor. More than a thousand people were forced to abandon their homes Sunday as a raging wildfire near Yosemite National Park spiraled out of control and became California’s worst fire of the year.

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Firefighters take a break while they work to extinguish the Oak Fire as it burns near Darrah in Mariposa County, California, U.S. July 23, 2022. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, some 2,000 firefighters were battling the Oak Fire, along with aircraft and bulldozers, in the face of difficult weather, including steep terrain and spiked temperatures.

Sunday’s early morning incident report warned that “the weather is forecast to continue hot with minimum humidity between 5 and 10 percent, which would hinder firefighting activities.”

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The fire broke out southwest of the park in Mariposa County, California, on Friday. In the worst drought in decades, a bone-dry landscape fueled by the flames of Saturday’s wildfires was described as “explosive.”

According to Cal Fire, the blaze has devoured more than 22 square miles of forest land and has no containment. The investigation was ongoing.

More than 6,000 people were ordered to evacuate a few miles of thinly populated Sierra Nevada foothills.

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For this reason, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared an emergency in Mariposa County.

An Oak Fire Is Burning in California

On July 23, 2022, firefighters in Mariposa County, California, U.S., take a break from putting out the Oak Fire, which is raging near Darrah. Carlos Barria/Reuters captured this image.
Cal Fire reports that a total of ten properties, including homes and businesses, were burned or damaged by the flames. State Route 140 between Carstens Road and Allred Road, a major artery leading into Yosemite, was one of many that were shut down.

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In the last 30 years, climate change has made the West significantly hotter and drier, resulting in increasingly massive and deadly wildfires in California. Wildfires are expected to become more frequent, devastating, and unpredictable in the future, according to scientists.

Over 3,100 homes and businesses in the area were without power as of Sunday, Pacific Gas & Electric reported on its website. There was no word on a restoration date. PGE said it can’t access the equipment because of the flames engulfing the area.

The Washburn Fire, which had burnt to the border of a gigantic sequoia grove in the southernmost area of Yosemite National Park, triggered the Oak Fire. After two weeks of blazing, the 7.5-square-mile (19-square-km) blaze was roughly 80 percent contained in the Sierra National Forest.

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