Firefighters gain ground on Central California wildfire

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 22, 2017 5:04 PM

By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A wildfire in central California was contained enough on Saturday for authorities to consider allowing more people back to their houses, a day after evacuation orders were lifted for a gold rush era town that was previously threatened.

The Detwiler Fire just outside Yosemite National Park has scorched 75,200 acres (30,432 hectares) and destroyed 60 homes since it broke out on Monday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

The blaze, which is now 30 percent contained, also incinerated a commercial building and damaged 20 other buildings. It was 25 percent contained on Friday evening.

The fire, named after a road near where it erupted in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, forced about 2,000 residents of the historic gold-mining town of Mariposa to flee their homes on Tuesday as it bore down on them.

Authorities have since lifted evacuation orders for the town. On Saturday, they were considering allowing more residents to return home, said Brandon Vaccaro, a spokesman for Cal Fire.

At the same time, the high temperatures this weekend are a concern for the nearly 4,500 firefighters handling the blaze.

"We've gotten ahead of the fire enough that we believe we'll be able to maintain some greater control of it through this hot spell," Vaccaro said.

The fire's main front is near the communities of Coulterville and Dogtown, north of the larger town of Mariposa.

Vaccaro could not immediately say how many people remain under evacuation orders, but the fire continues to threaten hundreds of buildings.

Yosemite National Park has remained open as the fire has burned near it, but smoke has clouded the views of its world-famous landmarks.

The Detwiler Fire is one of 36 large fires in the U.S. West, according to the website of the National Interagency Fire Center.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Diane Craft)