Mandatory evacuations underway as 900-acre wildfire rages near Yosemite National Park

The French Fire forced a local hospital to shelter in place on Thursday with more than 1,000 residents ordered to evacuate

Katie Hawkinson
Saturday 06 July 2024 02:00
US: Rapidly Spreading "French Fire" Prompts Evacuations In Mariposa County, California 2

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A 900-acre fire is burning through Mariposa County, California, near Yosemite National Park, prompting evacuations and forcing a local hospital to shelter in place.

The French Fire began just after 6 pm on Thursday. It was 15 percent contained as of Friday evening, and some 3,100 people are without power in the county, according to Cal Fire is mobilizing ground units and a helicopter to quell the blaze.

1,100 people were ordered to evacuate after the blaze broke out, Governor Gavin Newsom said on Friday. While some orders have been lifted, others remain under warnings. Footage of the fire shows billowing clouds of smoke as a helicopter releases fire retardant.

Officials also ordered patients and staff at California’s John C Fremont Hospital to shelter in place on Thursday, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports. However, that order expired on Friday afternoon.

Shelter-in-place orders for Yosemite Inn and Quality Inn were also lifted on Friday, local outlet ABC 30 reports.

The French Fire in Mariposa County, California is burning near Yosemite National Park, prompting evacuations in the region
The French Fire in Mariposa County, California is burning near Yosemite National Park, prompting evacuations in the region (Associated Press)

The fire forced the closure of Highway 140, a well-trafficked road into Yosemite, on Thursday, according to ABC 30. However, the road re-opened on Friday.

Officials are still investigating the cause of the fire.

On Friday morning, Newsom said his office secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The program allows states like California to apply for reimbursement of their fire-fighting costs.

California is also battling the Thompson Fire, which has burned through nearly 4,000 acres and is 46 percent contained. The blaze, which started some 70 miles outside of Sacramento, forced some 17,000 people to evacuate — though many have been allowed to return to their homes, the Associated Press reports.

“It was panic, because my dad didn’t want to leave and I told him, ‘You gotta get in the car right now,’” resident Lynette Bailey told NBC News.

Most counties in California are under an excessive heat warning this week, which is exacerbating fires in the state.

“These conditions are so hot anything that can create a spark can create a fire that can grow real fast,” Ryan Kittell, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, told the Los Angeles Times.

The human-caused climate crisis will continue to create prime conditions for destructive wildfires as global temperatures increase, making rain more erratic and droughts more prolonged and intense.

Climate scientists say that it is very likely 2024 will be the hottest year on record globally, following the record-setting temperatures of 2023.

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