August 23, 2013 in Nation/World

Wildfire rages near Yosemite

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

The Rim fire burns near Groveland Ranger Station in Groveland, Calif. The wildfire outside Yosemite National Park more than tripled in size overnight.
(Full-size photo)

Idaho weather worrisome

BOISE – More than 450 square miles are on fire in Idaho, and some fire managers were nervous Thursday that predicted thunderstorms could cause that number to grow.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for much of Idaho, with thunderstorms and lightning expected Thursday night and gusty winds today.

John Zapell, a fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service, said the Little Queens fire in central Idaho had grown to about 16 square miles by Thursday morning and the flames were within three miles of the tiny community of Atlanta.

Crews continued to make progress on Idaho’s biggest blaze, the 172-square-mile Beaver Creek fire, which threatens the resort towns of Sun Valley, Hailey and Ketchum.

FRESNO, Calif. – A wildfire outside Yosemite National Park more than tripled in size Thursday, prompting officers to warn residents in a gated community to evacuate their homes and leading scores of tourists to leave the area during peak season.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency due to the huge fire, one of several blazes burning in or near the nation’s national parks and one of 50 major uncontained fires burning across the Western U.S.

As flames approached an area of Pine Mountain Lake with 268 homes in the afternoon, deputies went door-to-door to deliver the news and to urge people to leave, Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Scott Johnson said.

The evacuations are not mandatory, although Johnson stressed that the fire, smoke and the potential for power outages pose imminent threats.

“We aren’t going to drag you out of your house, but when we are standing in front of you telling you it’s an advisory, it’s time to go,” he said.

Fire officials said the blaze, which started Saturday, had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 percent contained Thursday, down from 5 percent a day earlier. Two homes and seven outbuildings have been destroyed.

While the park remains open, the blaze has caused the closure of a 4-mile stretch of state Route 120, one of three entrances into Yosemite on the west side, devastating areas that live off of park-fueled tourism.

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