Los Angeles Times

Fast-moving fire forces evacuation­s

The Mariposa County blaze, started by a vehicle crash, burns 300 acres.

- By Jonah Valdez Times staff writer Gregory Yee contribute­d to this report.

A brush fire in Mariposa County, just north of Fresno, forced evacuation­s after growing rapidly Monday, officials said.

The fire exploded to 80 acres within a couple of hours after sparking along Highway 140, burning through dry brush as it moved north toward Highway 49 and the MariposaYo­semite Airport, said Jaime Williams, a spokespers­on for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

By 7 p.m., the fire was 300 acres and 10% contained, according to Cal Fire.

Dubbed the Agua fire, the blaze began along Highway 140 near Agua Fria and Yaqui Gulch roads about 1 p.m., Williams said.

Fire officials ordered evacuation­s for people in the areas between both highways as the blaze continued to burn up a slope, authoritie­s said.

The fire was sparked by a vehicle crash along Highway 140 and quickly spread into

the surroundin­g brush, according to a report by the Sierra Sun Times.

Cal Fire listed the blaze’s cause as a “vehicle” on Monday night.

Cal Fire crews were battling the blaze, which prompted agencies from around the Central Valley to send units, said John Dominguez with Cal Fire/ Fresno County Fire.

Weather service officials issued an excessive heat warning for the Central Valley region, including Mariposa County, which saw temperatur­es over 100 degrees when the fire erupted.

“We are entering the summer months and drought conditions, which will add to the intensity and spread of the fire,” Williams said.

Elsewhere in Mariposa County, a separate blaze — the Washburn fire — continued burning in Yosemite National Park.

The fire at one point had threatened to rip through Mariposa Grove, home to about 500 giant sequoias. Fire crews successful­ly protected the grove, and as of Monday had contained 50% of the fire.

The Washburn blaze has burned close to 5,000 acres.

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