California wildfires force evacuations

Raging blaze near Yosemite National Park displaces thousands of Mariposa residents in the western US state.

    California has seen twice as many wildfires this year compared with this time last year [EPA]
    California has seen twice as many wildfires this year compared with this time last year [EPA]

    A growing wildfire in the US state of California has forced thousands of residents of the small town of Mariposa to evacuate. 

    The Detweiler fire in the Central Valley of California began on Sunday and has now grown to more than 10,000 hectares.

    It is one of more than three dozen major wildfires burning across the western US state. 

    Evacuation orders for the small community of 2,000 in Mariposa, southwest of the world-renowned Yosemite National Park, went into effect on Tuesday evening.

    READ MORE: Flash drought hits the US Northern Plains and Canada

    So far the fire has forced the displacement of 5,000 residents in the area.

    Power lines to the national park are also now threatened as they are in the path of incoming fire.

    Jerry Brown, the governor of California, declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County on Tuesday, allowing resources to be sent to the area.

    So far almost a dozen homes have been destroyed, but hundreds in the area are still threatened.

    Even though California has pulled out of its historic drought, wildfires have charred more than twice as much land in 2017 compared with the same time last year.

    Ironically, this is all due to the record rain and snowfall this winter.

    IN PICTURES: Week's weather: From rivers to rhinos

    Large amounts of water from the melting snow have led to the growth of dense vegetation on the region's steep terrain.

    At least 780 firefighters are currently battling the wildfire that is only five percent contained.

    In just four days the cost of fighting this wildfire has already reached over $750,000, not including the loss of property.

    Hot, dry and windy conditions are expected to continue for the next several days.

    Containment of the Detweiler fire is not expected until later next week.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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