Crews attempted to get better access to two raging wildfires in California that have forced hundreds to evacuate their homes, including one near a lakeside resort that destroyed nearly two-dozen structures, officials said Monday.
Firefighters spent the day working to build and reinforce containment lines in steep terrain near a foothill community south of an entrance to Yosemite National Park in central California, prompting authorities to evacuate about 900 residents out of about 400 homes, Madera County Sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart said.
The Courtney Fire has burned less than a square mile and destroyed 21 structures — 20 of them homes, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Dennis Mathisen said. The fire started off a road outside of Oakhurst, near Yosemite National Park, and spread to Bass Lake, a popular year-round destination.
More than 300 firefighters were on the scene, but the blaze, which is 20 percent contained, has not affected the park, Mathisen said. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
The destructive fire led Gov. Jerry Brown to secure a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover 75 percent of the cost of fighting the fire, state officials said. The fire is the latest to hit the area which is still reeling from the Junction Fire near downtown Oakhurst that destroyed eight structures earlier this summer.
"I really feel for this community which has already been through a lot," Mathisen said. "This is yet another example of how the damaging effect of this drought has impacted California."
Further north, a wildfire about 60 miles east of Sacramento forced the evacuation of 133 homes. El Dorado County sheriff's officials said residents of an additional 406 homes were being told to prepare to flee.
More than 800 firefighters are battling the King Fire, which started in a remote area Saturday but exploded Sunday when it reached a canyon full of thick, dry brush. The fire grew by 900 acres overnight to more than 6 square miles, Mathisen said.
It was 10 percent contained, he said.