MIDPINES, UNITED STATES (AFP) – Firefighters were battling California’s largest wildfire of the summer on Monday, a blaze near famed Yosemite National Park that has forced thousands of people to evacuate, officials said.
The Oak Fire in central California broke out on Friday and is raging while parts of the United States (US) swelter through a heat wave, including the usually cool Pacific Northwest.
The fire in Mariposa County has engulfed 17,241 acres and is 16 per cent contained, Cal Fire, the state fire department, said.
“Fire crews are working aggressively using bulldozers, hand crews and aircraft,” with only “minimal growth on the fire” seen yesterday, the department said.
It is the most destructive blaze so far this fire season, according to Cal Fire, destroying more than three times the acreage of the nearby Washburn Fire, which has been nearly 90 per cent contained. But it remains much smaller than last year’s Dixie Fire, which burned nearly one million acres.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jon Heggie told CNN the latest wildfire was “very indicative” of other blazes seen in the region over the last two years.
“These fires are burning with just such a velocity and intensity, it makes it extremely challenging and extremely dangerous for both the public and the firefighters,” Heggie said.