Yosemite fire quadruples in size, forces evacuation

Yosemite fire quadrupled in size as of Monday morning, according to officials. The growing Yosemite fire forced the helicopter evacuation of about 100 park visitors.

Yosemite National Park/AP
Smoke from a Yosemite fire rises above Little Yosemite Valley near Yosemite National Park, Calif., Sunday. About 100 Yosemite National Park visitors were evacuated by helicopter Sunday when a wildfire that started weeks ago in the park's backcountry grew unexpectedly to at least 700 acres, officials said.

Officials say a wildfire in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park that forced the helicopter evacuation of about 100 park visitors nearly quadrupled in size overnight.

The wind-whipped fire had burned through about 4 square miles as of Monday morning, up from about a square mile the previous night. Park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said it is not threatening any structures, and the park remains open. The fire, however, has forced the closure of trails to Yosemite's iconic Half Dome peak as well as a nearby campsite.

The visitors who were evacuated on Sunday included hikers who had climbed Half Dome. Cobb said officials were confident they had pulled everyone in danger out, but they would continue to look for anyone left behind.

Calm winds forecast for Monday along with relatively high humidity were expected to help with the firefight.

Yosemite isn't the only area to be hit with wildfires this season. As the Monitor's Brad Knickerbocker reported over the weekend:

Farther north in bone-dry California, the Happy Camp complex of fires west of Yreka, which began nearly four weeks ago with a lightning strike, is reaching “megafire” status (100,000 acres).

As of Saturday morning, the fire had burned 88,546 acres, or about 138 square miles, according to the US Forest Service. Containment cost has been estimated at $51.5 million and the fire is 25 percent contained.

A brush fire in Corvallis, Oregon has also forced the evacuation of at least 200 homes.

Some wet weather is expected to hit southern California, but the outlook farther north remains dry. As the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reported early Monday:

Showers and thunderstorms will persist over southern California, as well as the southwest quarter of the U.S. today, as remnants of Tropical Depression Norbert spread moisture throughout the region. This will be a sharp contrast to very dry conditions over the northwest U.S. and northern Rockies. 

So far in 2014, 38,717 wildfires have scorched 2,796,229 acres of land, according to the NIFC.

For a map of active forest fires, visit the US Forest Service's Active Fire Mapping Program

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