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Thursday, December 8, 2022

A midsummer fire in California spreads to nearly 12,000 acres and threatens homes

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California Oak Fire, which started Friday as a 60-acre fire in remote mountains and quickly became a social media shock, reached nearly 12,000 acres Saturday night, destroyed 10 buildings, damaged five others and threatened nearly 2,700 other buildings in the area. .

To be spectacular images of raging flames and a swirling cloud of smoke were a symptom of a wildfire in a growth spurt, said Hector Vasquez, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Late Saturday, the fire was zero percent under control, fire officials reported.

On Friday, the fire produced a pyrocumulus column of smoke that could be: seen from Reno, Nevada, on the other side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. On Saturday, NASA released satellite images showing that the smoke plume from the fire can be seen from the International Space Station.

The Twitter account for the interactive map of the province, which includes areas under evacuation orders, stated, “This went from bad to worse.”

The National Interagency Coordination Center for Wildfire Response said on Saturday that the Oak Fire was a product of “extreme fire behavior involving running, long-range spotting, and setting a single tree on fire.”

Vasquez said the fire’s rapid growth shows the potential to become one of the state’s six-figure acreage megafires, which have been absent so far this summer despite a third straight year of drought. a warmer than usual springand blazing heat that began before the equinoxthe meteorological start of the season.

Firefighters are hoping for good luck that would eliminate at least one of the factors fueling the Oak Fire — dry fuel, hot temperatures and ample wind. Conditions so far have been ideal, including brittle dead trees and branches felled by a bark beetle infestation and a weather forecast offering little respite.

“We have the wind, the steep terrain and the dry conditions,” Vasquez said.

The National Weather Service forecasts high temperatures in the mid-90s for the next seven days, with low humidity and calm winds.

One thing firefighters can control is the human response.

Calfire and its federal and local partners have dedicated more than 400 employees to the Oak Fire. They will struggle with its movement north into the Sierra National Forest and its propensity to grow from spotty fires that thrive on the dry, beetle-damaged fuel.

Yosemite National Forest is only about 30 miles east of the fire’s hull. The park already dodged a bullet when the separate Washburn Fire threatened its cherished giant sequoia trees, but is now almost completely enclosed without taking one out.

The office of Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday secured a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that will support firefighting resources by allowing the state to charge the federal government much of the Oak Fire response.

Newsom declared a state of emergency in Mariposa County on Saturday as a result of the Oak Fire. The statement paves the way for increased state resources to fight and eventually repair the fire.

Mandatory evacuations apply to multiple neighborhoods in Mariposa County, and several more have been added to an “advice list” of communities to be packed up and ready to go. Newsom’s office said more than 3,000 Mariposa County residents received an evacuation order late Saturday.

The cause of the fire was investigated.


Todd Miyazawa and Alex Loc contributed.


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