Californians Flee Wildfires

by | September 15, 2014

By Joseph Serna

Several California wildfires have forced hundreds of residents to evacuate as firefighters contend with hot weather and steep, dry terrain. The region of Yosemite National Park has been hit particularly hard, with a new wildfire in the area destroying several homes, authorities said.

The Courtney fire began about 1:40 p.m. near Oakhurst_the same area where the Junction fire destroyed at least eight homes in August. Sunday's flames overtook a ridge line at the Bass Lake Heights community southwest of Yosemite and ripped through the residential community, forcing about 1,000 people to evacuate.

At least 21 buildings have been destroyed by the fire, which was 20 percent contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"This is gut-wrenching," Cal Fire Battalion Chief Chris Christopherson told the Fresno Bee. "It makes you sick."

About 400 firefighters were assigned to the fire, which had burned about 320 acres. Crews have been hampered by extreme heat, steep terrain dotted with homes and tinder-dry vegetation.

Images on social media show homes gutted to their concrete foundations as flames reach skyward at the edge of Bass Lake.

The blaze is just one of nearly a dozen firefighters are battling across the state. Within Yosemite National Park, crews continue to fight the Meadow fire, which has burned more than 4,700 acres. It was 50 percent contained as of Sunday night, the U.S. Forest Service reported.

East of Sacramento, the King fire has forced several communities to evacuate near Pollock Pines as the fire line pushes northeast through canyons along the American River. The fire has burned about 3,000 acres and was 10 percent contained Sunday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Meanwhile, in the Cleveland National Forest on the edge of Orange County, the Silverado fire has started to wind down. Crews dispatched from across Southern California are returning home as firefighters wrap around the blaze, which has burned about 968 acres. It was 50 percent contained overnight, but winds were expected to pick up Monday.

On the northern edge of California, the Happy Camp Complex fire – the state's largest current wildfire – has burned more than 111,000 acres and was 55 percent contained.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times