MARIPOSA COUNTY, Calif. – The Oak Fire, which is burning near Yosemite National Park in California, continues to grow in size, but thanks to a relentless attack by fire crews from the ground and air, its spread has been slowed.
The Oak Fire has forced thousands of residents from their homes, and the flames have destroyed at least 55 structures. Fire officials say of those structures, about 25 are homes,
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As of Tuesday afternoon, the Oak Fire has so far burned 18,087 acres and is 26% contained. CAL FIRE says the fire is continuing to burn in a northeast direction.
The Oak Fire began burning Friday afternoon near Midpines, and officials are continuing to investigate the exact cause of the blaze.
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Gorden said nearly 3,000 fire personnel have been working to contain the Oak Fire, and that includes 302 fire engines, 82 bulldozers and 24 helicopters.
CAL FIRE said 300,000 gallons of water have been dropped on the fire, which helped crews slow the spread of the blaze.
FOX Weather Correspondent Max Gorden said since this is the largest fire burning in the state, it’s getting a lot of attention.
“This is the number one priority within California. So we get the full force of all the California resources and region resources,” CAL FIRE battalion chief Jon Heggie told FOX Weather. “So we’re having all the engine, all the hand crews, all the aircraft we need. It’s nice. In years past, we’ve had fires up and down the state. And that competition for resources is challenging.”
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While thousands of residents remain evacuated, some evacuation orders have been reduced to fire advises. However, officials said closures remain in place in the Sierra National Forest.
“This closure will support public safety by keeping public members out of hazardous burn areas and will allow firefighting efforts to combat the fire without public interference,” CAL FIRE said in an update.
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Wildfire smoke moves into surrounding states
Hazy skies are likely across parts of Northern California due to smoke in the region from the Oak Fire. The smoke is also leading to poor air quality conditions in the Sierra Nevada, according to the National Weather Service Sacramento.
Smoke from the Oak Fire is traveling hundreds of miles, as far north as south of Portland, Oregon and east as far as Winnemucca, Nevada. The smoke will continue to push north into Oregon and parts of Idaho.
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The wildfire is already the largest of the year in the Golden State.
Typically, the period from July through October is the state’s busiest months for fire activity.
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