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.