FRESNO (AP) — A weeks-old wildfire that has now burned across 60 square miles was bearing down Friday on a popular recreational lake near Kings Canyon National Park in California, officials said.
The fire was moving toward Hume Lake so quickly that the incident command post was moved Thursday night from the lake to the ranger station in Sequoia National Forest.
The fire was just 3 percent contained.
The blaze led to the evacuation of more than 2,500 campers, hikers, employees and residents earlier in the week. Most of the Hume Lake Christian Camp has been evacuated as the fire moved closer, but the evacuated 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 KNTV-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.”
Flames have run through grass on steep hillsides and ridges keeping more than 1,600 firefighters busy tackling the fire that was sparked by lightning July 31 in Fresno County.
Smoke from the fire was hurting the search for a 62-year-old hiker who became separated from her group and had been missing for several hours. 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.
On the northwest edge of the flames, crews were working to protect Pacific Gas and Electric Co. equipment in the Balch camp area.
On Thursday, evacuation warnings were issued to residents about 40 miles east of Fresno in the communities of Crabtree, Sampson Flat, Davis Flat and Clover Meadows.
Across California, more than 12,000 firefighters are battling 17 wildfires across California.
Temperatures for the weekend are expected to be cooler statewide. However, warm, dry conditions will keep the fire threat elevated across foothills and mountains.
A wildfire on the eastern outskirts of the San Francisco Bay Area scorched nearly 4 square miles of dry brush near Livermore. Evacuations have been ordered in the rural area as the fire moves toward Tracy. It was two-thirds contained.
In San Luis Obispo County, about 800 people returned to their homes after firefighters stopped the growth of a wildfire that had charred more than 5 square miles.
Authorities on Friday asked for the public’s help in identifying the vehicle that they believe sparked the fire because of a mechanical problem or a dragging chain on U.S. 101 on Sunday.