Massive Wildfires Continue In Western US After Thousands Of Evacuations

A massive wildfire at Yosemite National Park led to thousands of parkgoers evacuating over the weekend, USA TODAY reports.

The Oak Fire began on Friday (July 22) in Mariposa County near Midpines, California amid the ongoing Washburn Fire 12 miles east near Yosemite — which firefighters had battled for two weeks — with more than 21 square miles covered on Sunday (July 24).

Cal Fire reports the Washburn Fire was 87% contained and the Oak Fire was 10% contained as of Monday morning amid 2,000 firefighters, 17 helicopters, 225 fire engines, 58 dozers and 23 water tenders responding to both areas.

“It’s hot out there again today,” Cal Fire spokesperson Natasha Fouts said Sunday via USA TODAY. “And the fuel moisture levels are critically low.”

Pacific Gas & Electric confirmed that more than 3,100 homes and businesses lost power during the massive California wildfire and hadn’t provided any indication about when it would be restored on its website.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County, which led to more than 6,000 people leaving the remote Sierra Nevada foothills, though a handful of residents defied the orders, according to Adrienne Freeman with the U.S. Forest Service.

“We urge people to evacuate when told,” Freeman said via USA TODAY. “This fire is moving very fast.”

Cal Fire said the cause of the fire has yet to be determined and is the focus of an ongoing investigation.

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