Cal­i­for­nia fires

Thou­sands flee homes as small area of blaze con­tained

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

MARI­POSA, Cal­i­for­nia — A wild­fire that has forced thou­sands of Cal­i­for­ni­ans to flee their homes ex­ploded in size on Wednes­day, threat­en­ing a pic­turesque gold rush town out­side Yosemite Na­tional Park as dozens of blazes scorched the west of the United States.

More than 2,200 fire­fight­ers have con­tained just 7 per­cent of the Detwiler Fire, which is ap­proach­ing the town of Mari­posa and tiny com­mu­ni­ties in the foothills of the Sierra Ne­vada moun- tains, the Cal Fire state agency said on its web­site.

The blaze has mush­roomed to 19,400 hectares, an in­crease of about 9,300 hectares com­pared with the day be­fore. The fire has de­stroyed 29 struc­tures and is threat­en­ing some 1,500 more struc­tures, lo­cal me­dia re­ported.

Fire­fight­ers are fac­ing “ex­treme and ag­gres­sive fire be­hav­ior” with solid walls of flame and sparks from the main blaze set­ting spot fires in grass­lands, the Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion said.

Flames have de­stroyed eight struc­tures south­west of Yosemite Na­tional Park and the fire is threat­en­ing power lines to the park, but no one has been in­jured, it said.

The fire has forced more than 4,000 peo­ple from homes in and around a half­dozen small com­mu­ni­ties, of­fi­cials said.

Heavy smoke hung in the air over Mari­posa, a town of 2,000 with cen­tury-old wooden build­ings, in­clud­ing what’s touted as the oldest ac­tive courthouse west of the Rocky Moun­tains.

Tony Munoz, 63, and his wife, Edna Munoz, 59, were or­dered out of their home out­side Mari­posa on Tues­day. They grabbed clothes, medicine and their three dogs and a cat and fled.

Driv­ing out on nar­row roads clogged by others get­ting out “you couldn’t even see the sun” in the ash-filled sky, said Tony Munoz, a school cus­to­dian.

JOSH EDEL­SON / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Fire­fight­ers watch as flames sur­round a home in Mari­posa, Cal­i­for­nia, on Wednes­day. The Detwiler fire has burned more than 19,400 hectares and is cur­rently at 7 per­cent con­tain­ment.

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