PLYMOUTH, Calif. — Cal Fire confirmed Sunday evening that a drone being flown over the Sand Fire nearly caused air-attack operations to be stopped because of the potential danger to firefighting planes.
The unidentified person flying the drone was apparently trying to get video of the blaze and was told to stop by fire officials.
As of Sunday evening, the Sand Fire,which had consumed about 3,800 acres, was 50% contained, according to Cal Fire.
Meanwhile, a blaze that began Saturday afternoon around Yosemite National Park threatened a small community.
The Sand Fire began Friday in the Sierra Nevada foothills and has since raced through more than 6 square miles of drought-stricken grasslands east of Sacramento.
Ten homes and seven outbuildings have been destroyed, and about 1,200 people have been evacuated, Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said. He said one firefighter has suffered a minor heat-related injury. About 1,500 personnel are on scene battling the fire, which is moving in a north-northeast direction, McLean said
CalFire said a vehicle that drove over dry vegetation started the fire, which has sent up huge plumes of smoke and worsened air quality in the Sacramento area.
Firefighters battled the flames through the weekend in triple-digit temperatures. At first, the fire moved away from vineyards in the Shenandoah Valley, but a wind change caused the flames to split and some crossed fire lines and headed down into a section of the wine country, Tolmachoff said.
The wildfire burned within 200 yards of the Story Winery in Plymouth on Friday, and the business was closed Saturday.
"We've got CalFire guys using our tasting room as a lookout point," owner Rob Campbell told the Sacramento Bee.
Sunset Saturday brought some relief, with slightly cooler and calmer weather.
"The wind has died down. It's definitely helping the firefighters out," Tolmachoff said. "We're not seeing the large flames. But now it's extremely smoky."
Meanwhile, a 500-acre fire that began Saturday afternoon threatened homes and cabins in Yosemite. Evacuations were ordered in Foresta, a community of about 45 homes inside the park where many park employees live, spokeswoman Kari Cobb said.
An additional six homes outside the park also were evacuated, she said.
The area is well away from the heavily touristed Yosemite Valley, but road closures could add a half-hour to the drive in for park visitors, Cobb said.
About 300 firefighters were battling the blaze in an area scorched in a 2009 fire, Cobb said.
Wildfires also burned in other Western states. The nation's largest wildfire, the 618-square-mile Buzzard Complex in eastern Oregon, was 95% contained Saturday as crews also battled other fires in the state.
There was also progress on Washington's largest wildfire, the 390-square-mile Carlton Complex in north-central part of the state, which was almost 60% contained. Cooler weather and rain helped firefighters get a handle on the lightning-caused fire, but heat and wind picked up Saturday. Officials increased their estimate of burned homes from 150 to 300 Friday.
In Utah, evacuation orders for 200 homes in Summit County and 10 homes in Utah County were lifted. No homes burned and there were no injuries. One of the fires started early Saturday when two teenagers playing with fireworks ignited dry grass and brush, police said.
Other wildfires burned in Utah, Colorado and other states in the West.
Contributing: The Associated Press