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Fast-moving wildfire forces thousands to evacuate in California

Updated:2022-07-27 14:33:35

A firefighter uses a drip torch to light a backfire at the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California, July 24, 2022. Photo by CFP

Thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate after a fast-moving wildfire exploded to over 5,747 hectares (57.5 square kilometers) near Yosemite National Park in the western U.S. state of California.

The wildfire, dubbed the Oak Fire, has destroyed at least 10 structures, damaged another five and was zero percent contained as of Sunday morning, with over 2,600 other structures under threat, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

Driven by hot, dry weather and drought conditions, the blaze began on Friday afternoon in Mariposa County in central California. It rapidly grows to be one of the largest wildfires in the state so far this year.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County on Saturday due to the effects of the explosive fire.

More than 6,000 people have been evacuated as over 2,000 fire personnel are fighting to control the flames from ground and from air, reported KFSN-TV, a TV station in the nearby city of Fresno.

"The fire remained active through the night, moving towards the community of Jerseydale, Darrah, and Bootjack. Poor humidity recovery was observed overnight," said Cal Fire in its update on Sunday, adding that the weather is expected to remain hot on Sunday with minimum humidity between five and 10 percent, which will hamper firefighting efforts.

The agency pointed out that high tree mortality and dense fuels are throughout the fire area. Officials urged the public to stay vigilant on current fire conditions.