Environment & Science

California wildfires: Yosemite blaze kept far from sequoias; other fires burn throughout state

El Portal Fire smoke plume on July 30, 2014.
El Portal Fire smoke plume on July 30, 2014.
Courtesy Yosemite National Park
El Portal Fire smoke plume on July 30, 2014.
Photo of the French Fire taken on July 28, 2014.
Courtesy Sierra National Forest
El Portal Fire smoke plume on July 30, 2014.
A plane drops fire retardant as firefighters battle a blaze in El Portal, Calif., near Yosemite National Park on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Firefighters in the state are also battling another wildfire in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento. (AP Photo/Al Golub)
Al Golub/AP


Firefighters brought a blaze that had spread in Yosemite National Park under control, and containment lines kept the wildfire from threatening some of the treasured sequoias that are among the largest and oldest living trees on Earth.

The El Portal Fire in Mariposa County spread about a half-mile in the Crane Creek area Wednesday, park officials said in a statement, but it was brought under control.

On Wednesday, the Big Oak Flat Road in Yosemite was reopened. Crane Flat, Yosemite Creek, and Bridalveil Creek Campgrounds remain closed, according to the latest update from park officials.

Fire Tracker: El Portal Fire in Mariposa County

The fire remained about 10 miles from Merced Grove, one of three Yosemite stands of giant sequoias. The towering trees grow only on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada and can live longer than 3,000 years.

Flames could reach the grove if the fire makes a significant surge, park spokesman Scott Gediman said.

"We're not looking at an imminent threat right now," he said.

Low humidity was likely to lead to an active night for the fire into Thursday, and thunderstorms brought the threat of lightning, the park's statement said.

With the exception of some smoke in Yosemite valley, the park itself was largely unaffected by the fire and remained open, Gediman said.

The fire was threatening about 50 homes that remained under evacuation orders. It has destroyed a home and a duplex and burned through more than 6 square miles since it began on Saturday. It was 34 percent contained.

The cost of fighting the fire has reached $4.4 million so far.

Fire crews also were battling a blaze in Sierra National Forest about 60 miles northeast of Fresno that grew substantially late Tuesday and had spread across nearly 7,024 acres by Thursday morning.

The French Fire in Madera County was threatening about 20 homes, though they were not under mandatory evacuation orders, said Anne Grandy, a spokeswoman for the park.

Several campgrounds and cabins were evacuated and closed, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement.

Fire Tracker: French Fire in Madera County

In Amador County, the Sand Fire has reached 95 percent containment. That fire has burned 4,240 acres.

Fire Tracker: Sand Fire in Amador County

And a new fire cropped up Wednesday afternoon in Modoc County. The 3-7 Day Fire has burned 700 acres and is 15 percent contained. That fire was started by a lightning strike.

Officials have stated that there is an evacuation advisory for residents living in the Day Community from the Modoc-Shasta county line to the end of Day Road.

Fire Tracker: 3-7 Day Fire in Modoc County