() — An Oak wildfire that raged for a second day Saturday in central California’s Mariposa County, outside Yosemite National Park, has burned more than 6,000 acres and forced rural communities to evacuate, fire officials said.
The fire started Friday in the Sierra Nevada foothills near the small community of Midpines, about 9 miles (14 kilometers) northeast of the county seat, the city of Mariposa, state firefighters said.
“(Authorities) came … and told us everyone had to go,” Wes Detamore, a resident of the Mariposa Pines area, told KFSN on Friday.
Power to the area stopped around 4 pm Friday, “and the fire has been coming at us faster and faster,” Detamore said.
The fire has destroyed at least 10 structures, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, said Saturday, without elaborating. The fire threatens another 2,000 structures, Cal Fire said.
It had burned 6,000 acres by Saturday morning and had no containment, Cal Fire said. Fire activity was extreme and emergency personnel were working to evacuate people and protect buildings, the department said.
More than 400 people, as well as 45 fire trucks and four helicopters, have been assigned to fight the flames, Cal Fire said.
Evacuations have been ordered for certain areas in Mariposa County to the south and east of the fire, as shown on an online map. The evacuation zones did not include the town of Mariposa.
A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at an elementary school in Mariposa, Cal Fire said.
The fire is a few dozen kilometers southwest of the southern edges of Yosemite National Park, although the park is closer when measured as the crow flies.
The Oak Fire is the largest of California’s currently active wildfires, which numbered at least six by Saturday morning, according to Cal Fire.
The second largest, the Washburn Fire, has burned in and near southern Yosemite National Park for more than two weeks. It had burned more than 1,962 hectares and was 79% contained by Saturday morning, according to InciWeba US agency for fire information.