A Wildfire Is Spreading Toward Yosemite National Park

A Wildfire Is Spreading Toward Yosemite National Park

Hot and dry conditions have fueled the new Oak Fire in Mariposa County.

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A forest is smoldering after the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
A forest is smoldering after the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
Photo: DAVID MCNEW / AFP (Getty Images)

A new wildfire exploded in Mariposa County, California on Friday and quickly spread over the weekend. The damage caused by what is now being called the Oak Fire has shut off power for about 2,000 homes and businesses.

The flames have reactivated concerns for the safety of hundreds of mature giant sequoia trees in Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park. Earlier this month, the Washburn Fire came dangerously close to the grove, which is home to huge and ancient trees, including the 3,000-year-old Grizzly Giant.

Firefighters deployed the sprinkler system that was set up at the base of the old trees to protect them. After two weeks and thousands of firefighters being deployed, the Washburn Fire was more than 80% contained, USA Today reported. This time around, more than 400 firefighters are battling the fast-growing blaze alongside bulldozers and helicopters. As of Monday morning, the Oak Fire is 10% contained, according to Cal Fire. 

The flames have been fueled by low humidity alongside especially high temperatures and have already burned more than 16,000 acres. This forced thousands of residents in rural communities to evacuate, CNN reported. California’s governor declared a state of emergency in the county, and several homes have been destroyed by the fire. The Oak Fire is quickly becoming one of the largest blazes in the state of California this year, according to CBS News.

A combination extreme heat and a seemingly never-ending drought has helped fuel intense fires throughout the U.S. this year. Thanks to those conditions, the 2022 wildfire season has seen several record-breaking blazes. New Mexico recently saw the biggest fire in its history, and in June, Alaska officials confirmed that over a million acres of the state have been set ablaze by multiple fires.

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Protecting the grove

Protecting the grove

U.S. Forest firefighters stand watching a wildfire called the Oak Fire burn east of Midpines in Mariposa County, Calif., Friday, July 22, 2022
U.S. Forest firefighters stand watching a wildfire called the Oak Fire burn east of Midpines in Mariposa County, Calif., Friday, July 22, 2022
Photo: Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee (AP)
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Quick burn

Quick burn

High winds cause tree canopies to flare up as a wildfire burns east of Midpines in Mariposa County, Calif., Friday, July 22, 2022
High winds cause tree canopies to flare up as a wildfire burns east of Midpines in Mariposa County, Calif., Friday, July 22, 2022
Photo: Eric Paul Zamora/The Fresno Bee (AP)
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Fight fire with fire

Fight fire with fire

A firefighter lights a backfire near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
A firefighter lights a backfire near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
Photo: DAVID MCNEW/AFP (Getty Images)
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Firefighting overhead

Firefighting overhead

A firefighting aircraft fly through a smoke-filled sky near a burned ridge at the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
A firefighting aircraft fly through a smoke-filled sky near a burned ridge at the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
Photo: DAVID MCNEW/AFP (Getty Images)
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Lighting backfires

Lighting backfires

A melted sideview mirror on a firefighting truck is seen as firefighters set a backfire at the Oak Fire on near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
A melted sideview mirror on a firefighting truck is seen as firefighters set a backfire at the Oak Fire on near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
Photo: DAVID MCNEW/AFP (Getty Images)
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Smoldering trees

Smoldering trees

Smoldering trees in a forest after the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California swept through the area on July 24, 2022.
Smoldering trees in a forest after the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California swept through the area on July 24, 2022.
Photo: DAVID MCNEW / AFP (Getty Images)
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Thick smoke

Thick smoke

A momentary parting of smoke reveals a burning forest at the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
A momentary parting of smoke reveals a burning forest at the Oak Fire near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
Photo: DAVID MCNEW/AFP (Getty Images)
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Red sunset

Red sunset

The sun sinks behind a smoky sky and burned forest at the Oak Fire on near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
The sun sinks behind a smoky sky and burned forest at the Oak Fire on near Mariposa, California, on July 24, 2022.
Photo: DAVID MCNEW/AFP (Getty Images)
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