WASHINGTON - Officials in the U.S. state of California say a wildfire sweeping through the state’s foothills near Yosemite National Park has destroyed dozens of homes and burned through nearly 300 square kilometers.
Authorities said Friday that the fire has destroyed 58 homes in the Sierra Nevada foothills. They say the blaze also grew slightly bigger Friday as more than 3,800 firefighters race to control it.
Officials say 1,500 structures are still under threat from the fire. More than 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, however firefighters allowed residents in Mariposa, a historic Gold Rush-era town, to return to their residences Friday, saying the town was no longer in danger.
Officials say the fire came within three-quarters of a kilometer of Mariposa, which is largely dependent on tourism, but said firefighters used bulldozers and fire retardant to stop the blaze’s path.
They say the fire has also come within 56 kilometers of Yosemite, and officials have warned campers with respiratory problems there to be aware of the smoky haze creeping into the park. Officials say the park does not appear to be in the fire’s path.
The blaze is not the only one burning in the Western United States, with officials saying more than 40 large fires are affecting 11 states.