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Forest fire.
Forest fire.
Image: Shutterstock

Yosemite fires cause tourists to flee national park

A state of emergency has been declared in some parts of California.
Aug 23rd 2013, 11:59 AM 6,318 5

WILDFIRES AT YOSEMITE National Park in California have tripled in size causing the California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency.

Brown was forced to act when the fires’s coverage rose to 54,000 acres, up from an estimate of 16,000 acres the day before.

Firefighters

1,800 firefighters have been drafted into the area to control the blaze which has gotten out of control, according to the San Francisco Chronicle which reports that hundreds of residents and visitors have had to clear out of the area.

The newspaper reports that the fire covers more than 98 square miles, making it one of the biggest blazes in the nation. The blaze started last Saturday but a spokesperson for the US Forest Service said the fires are “growing exponentially”.

CBS News states that the fire threatens hotels, campgrounds and more than 2,500 structures.

Officials also have advised voluntary evacuations of more than a thousand other homes, several organised camps and at least two campgrounds. More homes, businesses and hotels are threatened in nearby Groveland, a community of 600 about 5 miles from the fire and 25 miles from the entrance of Yosemite.

“Usually during summer, it’s swamped with tourists, you can’t find parking downtown,” said Christina Wilkinson, who runs Groveland’s social media pages and lives in Pine Mountain Lake. “Now, the streets are empty. All we see is firefighters, emergency personnel and fire trucks.”

While the park remains open, the blaze has caused the closure of a stretch of State Route 120, one of three entrances into Yosemite on the west side, devastating areas that live from park-fuelled tourism.

-Additional reporting by Associated Press

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