July 28, 2008 in Nation/World

Yosemite fire destroys homes

2,000 properties threatened; no injuries
By TRACIE CONE Associated Press

Washington fire chief believed dead

 A firefighter believed to be a fire chief from Washington died Saturday while scouting a blaze in Northern California, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department said Sunday.

 The fire prevented crews from recovering the body to make a positive identification, but several other firefighters said the victim was Daniel Packer, 49, of Lake Tapps, Wash.

 On Friday, Washington state firefighter Andrew Palmer, 18, died after he was hit by a falling tree while battling another Northern California wildfire.

Associated Press

MARIPOSA, Calif. – An out-of-control wildfire burning Sunday near an entrance to Yosemite National Park has destroyed eight homes and threatened thousands more as flames forced authorities to cut power to the park.

The blaze has charred more than 18,000 acres since Friday as wooded slopes ignited amid hot, dry conditions that have plagued California for months. The fire was completely uncontained Sunday.

“There’s no fire history in the past 100 hundred years. That’s one of the reasons this fire’s been able to burn so erratically,” said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

In Southern California, about 4,000 visitors were evacuated Sunday from the Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens as a fast-moving brush fire burned nearby in Griffith Park.

Flames came within about 1,000 feet of a California condor enclosure in the zoo, forcing the relocation of the condors and two vultures, zoo spokesman Jason Jacobs said.

The fire had burned about 25 acres and was contained in less than three hours, Los Angeles fire officials said.

Meanwhile, near Yosemite National Park, the wildfire led officials to order the evacuations of 195 homes under immediate threat. About 2,000 homes faced at least some danger from the fast-spreading flames, fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

State fire spokeswoman Karen Guillemin said the blaze was sparked by someone target shooting but would not elaborate.

Some homeowners defied evacuation orders to stay and defend their properties.

To protect firefighters battling flames beneath power lines, electricity was cut to a wide area, fire officials said. The transmission line that fed power to Yosemite was also destroyed in the fire, said James Guidi Jr., a spokesman for Pacific Gas & Electric.

Some park buildings were closed because of the power outage, but generators were still providing electricity, park spokeswoman Julie Chavez said.

© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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