Yosemite fire expands, threatens giant redwoods

SAN FRANCISCO — A fire on the western side of Yosemite National Park expanded to 3,060 acres Tuesday, threatening a grove of giant redwoods and limiting access to the park.

Firefighters made progress containing the fire, which was burning through chaparral, grass and timber. Some 19% of the perimeter was contained, and residents of the town of El Portal were allowed to return to their homes.

The fire was temporarily cutting off some access points to the park, a big tourist draw during the summer, closing Big Oak Flat Road and parts of Highway 120. Three campgrounds were also closed. The Merced Grove Giant Sequoia within the park was threatened, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

An extreme drought in 80% of California has made the state vulnerable to a worse-than-usual wildfire season this year. So far, however, the biggest and most destructive fires have occurred in the Pacific Northwest, where Washington state experienced its biggest-ever wildfire and Oregon's Buzzard Complex became the largest in the nation.

Over the last week, smaller fires have started to flare in California, a foreshadowing of what could come as the state hits the peak wildfire months of September and October.

In the Sierra Nevada east of Sacramento, fire crews found the Sand Fire had destroyed six more homes, bringing the total to 19 homes and 47 other structures. It was 80% contained and covered 3,800 acres, or 6 square miles.

Further north, near Chico, a fire started Monday called the Web Fire, in Butte County, had reached 250 acres and was 15% contained.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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