updated 9/13/2004 1:49:01 AM ET 2004-09-13T05:49:01

A firefighter died Sunday and six others were injured while working to contain a comparatively small, but tricky wildfire in Stanislaus National Forest, authorities said.

The seven-person crew was overrun by flames while participating in the initial attack on the fire in the Tuolumne River Canyon, said Karen Terrill, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The department did not identify the dead or injured firefighters pending notification of their families. Of the six survivors, one suffered moderate injuries, the rest minor injuries.

Federal and state fire officials are investigating, Terrill said.

The fire, which broke out at about 12:45 p.m. in dense, hilly terrain about 12 miles east of Groveland, had burned more than 500 acres as of Sunday evening. It was moving northeast in an area that cuts across 10 campgrounds and Highway 120, the western route into Yosemite National Park.

“Speaking from a firefighter point of view, it’s going to be nasty land to fight fire in,” said Mary Bowman, a spokeswoman in the National Forest Service’s Southern California Fire Operations Center.

The fire that started Sunday was the first of the 2004 fire season in Stanislaus National Forest.

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