State of emergency declared in California as Yosemite wildfire rages

Officers warn residents in gated community near national park to leave homes as tourists stay away - but inside park all is calm

A wildfire outside Yosemite national park, in California, is raging out of control and has more than tripled in size, causing scores of tourists to flee during high season.

The blaze is threatening to engulf about 2,500 homes, hotels and camp buildings near the park, one of the most popular in the country. California's governor, Jerry Brown, has declared a state of emergency.

The fire service said the wildfire had grown to more than 84 square miles and was only 2 per cent contained on Thursday, down from 5 per cent a day earlier.

While the park remains open, the blaze has caused the closure of a four mile stretch of State Route 120, one of three entrances into Yosemite on the west side, having a devastating on the local economy, which is heavily reliant on tourism.

As the flames approached the small resort village of Pine Mountain Lake, which has about 250 homes, local police went door to door to urge residents to leave, although they stopped short of a forced evacuation.

Officials have urged voluntary evacuations of more than a thousand homes and several campsites in the region. More homes, businesses and hotels are threatened in the village of Groveland, a community of 600 about five miles from the fire and 25 miles from the entrance of the park. 

"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."

Though Wilkinson said she and her husband were not yet planning to leave, many area businesses have closed and people who had rented holiday homes are cancelling plans, local business owners said. 
 

A firefighter from Central Calaveras Fire monitors the Rim Fire in Groveland, California A firefighter from Central Calaveras Fire monitors the Rim Fire in Groveland, California  

"This fire, it's killing our financial picture," said Corinna Loh, whose family owns the still-open Iron Door Saloon and Grill in Groveland. "This is our high season and it has gone to nothing, we're really hurting."

Although the situation outside the park is dire, the park itself is still open, with no accommodation or activities closed. During summer weekdays, up to 15,000 visitors arrive at Yosemite.

"The fire is totally outside the park," said a park spokesman. "The park's very busy, people are here. There's no reason that they should not come."

A firefighter from Cosumnes Fire Department monitors a back fire while battling the Rim Fire in Groveland, California A firefighter from Cosumnes Fire Department monitors a back fire while battling the Rim Fire in Groveland, California

A back fire burns in a grove of trees during the Rim Fire in Groveland, California. The Rim Fire continues to burn out of control and threatens 2,500 homes outside of Yosemite National Park A back fire burns in a grove of trees during the Rim Fire in Groveland, California

Click here or on 'view gallery' to see more images

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee