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Crews Gain Some Ground in Battling California Wildfire

Inmate firefighters walk along Highway 120 after a burnout operation as firefighters continue to battle the Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park, California, Aug. 25, 2013.
Crews working to contain a massive wildfire in the western U.S. state of California gained some ground on Monday.

The wildfire, one of California's largest-ever, has been raging out of control and threatening one of the country's best known national parks.

Authorities said the blaze has consumed more than 60,000 hectares, engulfing part of Yosemite National Park, in the central part of California.

On Monday containment of the Rim Fire more than doubled to 15 percent. They have cleared brush and positioned sprinklers in an effort to protect the park's giant sequoia trees, some of the oldest living flora on Earth.

The Yosemite blaze is one of about 50 large wildfires that are currently burning in the parched western U.S., where lack of snow and rainfall this year have caused extremely dry conditions.

More than 3,400 firefighters are battling towering flames, fueled by 80-kilometer-an-hour winds.

Some residents in the path of the fire, like Claudio Alecio, had to move quickly to escape.

"Fifteen minutes to be out of our house. So we only got our kids, our animals, and a little bit of pictures, and you know, paperwork that we really needed, and it was hard," he said.