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Blaze burns lodge, threatens recreation spot

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POSTED August 23, 2015 5:51 p.m.

KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK (AP) — A wildfire burned a lodge in Kings Canyon National Park, the first structure the huge blaze has burned in the three weeks since lightning sparked it.

Pieces of foundation, charred metal pipes, broken dishes and a burned-out pickup truck were all that remained of the Kings Canyon lodge, which bills itself as a folksy getaway for tourists. The lodge had been evacuated Monday and no one was injured.

The wildfire had burned across 73 square miles and was just 7 percent contained late Sunday as it was bearing down on the popular recreation spot Hume Lake in the national park, officials said.

The blaze led to the evacuation of more than 2,500 campers, hikers, employees and residents earlier in the week. The Hume Lake Christian Camp has been evacuated as the fire moved closer, but the camp community worried for their cherished space.

“We’re at the very brink as I understand it,” John Yakligian, a board member and a staffer since the camp opened in 1946, told KFSN-TV.

Camp director Dathan Brown said it would be a huge loss, as the camp is “not just structures. It’s the people involved.”

But Yakligian said the community’s faith would get them through any result.

“If God chooses to save Hume Lake Christian Camps, our facility, we will praise God,” Yakligian said. “If he chooses to burn it down, we will praise God.”

Smoke from the fire was hurting the search for a 62-year-old hiker who became separated from her group and was missing Friday. Fresno County authorities said neither she nor the other hikers were near the flames, but the smoke was making it nearly impossible for helicopters to see where she may be.

Across California, more than 12,000 firefighters are battling 17 wildfires across California.

 

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