Hundreds flee 2 California wildfires; homes burn - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Hundreds flee 2 California wildfires; homes burn

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A jet air tanker drops its load of fire retardant on a fire burning in the area of Cedar Drive in Oakhurst, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, as two raging wildfires in the state forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. A jet air tanker drops its load of fire retardant on a fire burning in the area of Cedar Drive in Oakhurst, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, as two raging wildfires in the state forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.
A burned truck and smoldering ruins is all that is left of a garage near a house that burned on Cedar Drive in Oakhurst, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, as two raging wildfires in the state forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. A burned truck and smoldering ruins is all that is left of a garage near a house that burned on Cedar Drive in Oakhurst, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014, as two raging wildfires in the state forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Crews attempted to get better access to two raging wildfires in California that have forced hundreds to evacuate their homes, including one near a lakeside resort that destroyed nearly two-dozen structures, officials said Monday.

Firefighters spent the day working to build and reinforce containment lines near a foothill community south of an entrance to Yosemite National Park in central California, prompting authorities to evacuate about 900 residents out of about 400 homes, Madera County Sheriff's spokeswoman Erica Stuart said.

The blaze has burned a less than a square mile and destroyed 21 structures — 20 of them homes, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Dennis Mathisen said. The fire started off a road outside of Oakhurst, near Yosemite National Park, and spread to Bass Lake, a popular year-round destination.

More than 300 firefighters were on the scene as the blaze, which is 20 percent contained, has not affected the park, Mathisen said. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

The destructive fire led Gov. Jerry Brown to secure a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover 75 percent of the cost of fighting the fire, state officials said. The fire is the latest to hit the area which is still reeling from the Junction Fire near downtown Oakhurst that destroyed eight structures earlier this summer.

"I really feel for this community which has already been through a lot," Mathisen said. "This is yet another example of how the damaging effect of this drought has impacted California."

Further north, a wildfire about 60 miles east of Sacramento forced the evacuation of 133 homes. El Dorado County sheriff's officials said residents of an additional 406 homes were being told to prepare to flee.

More than 800 firefighters are battling the blaze which started in a remote area Saturday but exploded Sunday when it reached a canyon full of thick, dry brush. The fire grew by 900 acres overnight to more than 6 square miles, Mathisen said.

It was 10 percent contained, he said.

Meanwhile in Southern California, evacuation orders for 200 homes in Orange County's Silverado Canyon were lifted late Sunday as firefighters contained 80 percent of a wildfire.

The U.S. Forest Service downgraded the fire's size from 2 ½ square miles to 1 ½ square miles due to better mapping of the blaze which started Friday.

Six firefighters have suffered minor injuries, many of them from heat exhaustion as the region baked under triple-digit temperatures.

A heat wave was expected to last through Tuesday in Southern California as red flag warnings were in effect for Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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