Fire Destroys Homes Near Yosemite

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WASHINGTON - California's fire season is raging with fury as flames close in on hundreds of homes and have threatened the popular Yosemite National Park.

The rapidly spreading fires that already burned through a thousand acres have destroyed 12 homes in northern California, and forced the evacuation of hundreds more.

And two Washington firefighters have already been killed battling the flames.

The fires are just 12 miles west and of Yosemite National Park and closing in. Fire crews have cut electricity there, and vacationers are filing out.

"If you look at this fire, it's a big circle - and no, wind is not playing a part in this fire. What's playing a role is the topography and the fuels, so it's an unusual fires for us it's advancing on all sides," said firefighter Cheryl Goetz.

Hundred-foot flames are being fueled by hundred-degree temperatures, high winds, and low humidity, creating grueling conditions for those battling the blaze.

"This one has fire on both sides of the road so it could be limited use or no use at all," Orange County Fire Department's battalion chief Dave Phillips said.

He added, "A Combination of the fuel being preheated the alignment of the topography and the fact that it's just inaccessible, it makes it real difficult. We have a lot of fire on the ground."

Working to cut the dry wood near homes that wildfires fire feed on, 2,000 firefighters are on the ground, and more are on the way.

"I believe the last fire in this area was the Stanislaus fire, which was in 1987. So you're looking at a good 20 years' worth of what we call fuel - basically vegetation. It's chemise, it's dry shrubs, it's dry grass and some mixed timber. And the timber this year is very receptive to flaming and burning," said a spokeswoman for the California Fire Department.

Officials suspect the fires were ignited by someone target shooting in a wooded area, but have no further details.

One resident evacuated from her California home looking for the silver lining of the fire's devastation said,  "One of the blessings of living here is that you learn to adapt and accept things."

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Melissa Charbonneau

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