Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Growing wildfire causes evacuations near Yosemite park

FIERY SEASON The wildfire outside of one of California’s most famous national parks grew from 405 hectares to 4,050 hectares in just one day

AP , MIDPINES, CALIFORNIA

A growing wildfire has forced the evacuations of 170 homes near the main entrance road to Yosemite National Park and is threatening more, fire officials said on Saturday.

The blaze grew from about 405 hectares to around 4,050 hectares between Saturday morning and early evening, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Daniel Berlant said.

It is burning on both sides of a steep, rugged canyon along the Merced River.

“The erratic behavior is because there is so much fuel out there to burn,” Berlant said.

In Northern California, authorities said a firefighter died after being struck by a tree. Andrew Jackson Palmer was struck on Friday while working on the Eagle Fire near Junction City, about 80km west of Redding.

Palmer died while en route to a hospital, said Steve Ritchie, a spokesman for the Redding-area fire command center. He had been based in Port Angeles, Washington.

Near Yosemite Valley, most of the evacuated homes are in the town of Midpines, but more homes in other small towns are being asked to prepare to leave the area, state fire spokeswoman Karen Guillemin said.

Guillemin said the cause of the fire was target shooting.

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