Environment & Science

Yosemite blaze prompts evacuation of campers

The Meadow Fire grew to over 400 acres Sunday night.
The Meadow Fire grew to over 400 acres Sunday night.
Courtesy Calfire

A 400-acre wildfire that started weeks ago in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park led to the evacuation of about 100 campers Sunday as the flames grew unexpectedly, officials said.

Firefighters had monitored and controlled the lightning-caused fire that started several weeks ago between Little Yosemite Valley and Half Dome, park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said. Visitors camp overnight in the valley before climbing the park's iconic Half Dome peak.

National Park firefighters and others are responding to the blaze, Cobb said.

Firetracker: Meadow Fire

About 15 miles southwest of Yosemite, firefighters were slowly gaining the upper hand on a wildfire near the town of Mariposa.

The 300-acre blaze was 65 percent contained, and an evacuation order already has been lifted for most of the 300 homes most threatened by the fire, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. A portion of Highway 49, a main entrance into the park, was briefly closed.

The fire broke out Friday afternoon and threatened a total of 700 homes and five businesses.

Steep terrain in the area and the dry conditions brought on by California's drought initially hampered firefighters, one of whom received a minor injury Friday but was treated and sent home, officials said.

Meanwhile, in far Northern California, firefighters increased their control over a blaze that broke out nearly a month ago and despite its growing to almost 130 square miles. U.S. Forest Service officials said Sunday that no structures have been damaged, and the fire was 30 percent contained.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Department on Saturday night issued an evacuation advisory for an undetermined number of residents in a neighborhood newly threatened by the fire. The residents weren't required to leave but advised to prepare to evacuate. The sheriff's office rescinded evacuation warnings for residents elsewhere in the area.

A "red flag" warning for dangerous fire conditions near that blaze was also rescinded Saturday night as humidity increased.

Forest Service officials estimate that $54.7 million has been spent and nearly 2,700 people used to fight the fire.