Published: July 21,2017
A massive wildfire in the foothills west of Yosemite National Park has forced thousands to evacuate and destroyed more than 50 homes.
The blaze is burning in the Central Valley of California and has been named the Detwiler fire. Now 15 percent contained, the inferno has torched more than 115 square miles – larger than the city of Tampa – and destroyed more than 100 structures, according to Calfire. The smoke has drifted as far away as Idaho, the National Weather Service said.
The fire, which began Sunday afternoon, forced all 2,000 residents in the town of Mariposa to evacuate, unsure of the fate of their homes. As many as 1,500 structures are threatened, officials told the Associated Press. Up to 5,000 people overall have evacuated since the fire began burning, according to KPIX.
"The place is like a ghost town," Mariposa bed and breakfast owner Carol Dewey told the AP. "This fire has really devastated the area, business is just flat."
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Officials told SF Gate that the blaze is threatening power lines that provide electricity to Yosemite National Park. The fire remains some 35 miles from the park, but Highway 140 from Mariposa into Yosemite Valley has been closed, park spokesman Scott Gediman told the AP.
The inferno led California Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday, according to ABC News.
"I don't think we can emphasize enough how erratic and active this fire activity is – especially with this fire," Mariposa County Sheriff Doug Binnewies told KFSN-TV, as reported by ABC News. "It's done stuff that we've never seen before."
More than 3,800 firefighters are battling the wildfire, according to Calfire.
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