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Wildfire in California Threatens Homes, Power to Yosemite National Park

The raging Detwiler fire prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for Mariposa County, home to about 17,400 people.
Image: Detwiller Fire
Firefighters work to keep the Detwiller fire from reaching a home near Mariposa, California.Noah Berger / EPA

A large wildfire burning out of control in central California late Tuesday continued to threaten some 1,500 homes and buildings as well as power lines supplying electricity to Yosemite National Park, fire officials said.

The Detwiler fire, burning in Mariposa County southwest of Yosemite, had scorched approximately 25,000 acres and was only 5 percent contained early Wednesday, according to Cal Fire.

The fire prompted evacuations of affected towns, and Gov. Jerry Brown late Tuesday declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County, home to about 17,400 people.

The communities of Hunters Valley, Bear Valley, Catheys Valley, Mormon Bar, the town of Mariposa, Mount Bullion, Yaqui Gulch/Aqua Fria areas and Hornitos were under threat, Cal Fire said, adding that the wildfire is encroaching on “culturally and historically sensitive areas.”

Fire officials said the blaze, which started Sunday afternoon, displayed “extreme and aggressive” behavior on Tuesday.

National Weather Service meteorologist Carlos Molina said conditions would be hot and dry in the area on Wednesday, with temperatures in the low 90s and humidity around 20 percent.

"The biggest concern for them is going to the be the winds," Molina said. "That gives the fire oxygen, the fuel to really take off."

Marine air moving in through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta was creating the windy conditions that are expected to fuel the blaze in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains through midday Wednesday, Molina said.

A large section of Yosemite National Park's western edge was burned in the 2013 Rim fire, one of the three largest fires in California since accurate record keeping began in 1932.