The Associated Press, September 8, 2014
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Crews battling a wildfire in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park that forced the helicopter evacuation of 85 park visitors were expecting to get some help from the weather on Monday.
The forecast called for calm winds and relatively high humidity, park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said. The fire had burned through about 4 square miles as of Monday morning, up from about a square mile the previous night. Park officials attributed some of the increase to better mapping.
The fire burning in steep and rugged terrain was not threatening any structures, and the park remained open. It did, however, force the closure of trails near Yosemite's iconic Half Dome peak, where the park allows 300 hikers each day, as well as a nearby campsite.
The visitors who were evacuated on Sunday included hikers who had climbed Half Dome, which rises nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley. Cobb said officials were confident they had pulled out everyone in danger out, but they would continue to look for anyone left behind.
The 4-square-mile blaze may have started as a spot fire sparked by embers from a lightning-caused blaze that started several weeks ago between Little Yosemite Valley and Half Dome, officials said. Firefighters had monitored and controlled that fire before winds and temperatures increased on Sunday.
About 15 miles southwest of the park, meanwhile, firefighters were slowly gaining the upper hand on a wildfire near the town of Mariposa.
The 300-acre blaze was 75 percent contained, and an evacuation order was previously lifted for the 300 homes most threatened by the fire, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. A portion of Highway 49, a main entrance into the park, was briefly closed.
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