YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK (AP) — Fire officials called in additional crews to help battle a blaze in Yosemite National Park that forced hikers to be evacuated and sent smoke into the park’s famed valley for the first time Tuesday, officials said.
More than 300 firefighters were battling the blaze in the park’s backcountry, up from 120 a day earlier, park spokeswoman Kari Cobb said. The fire was sending smoke into Yosemite Valley — from where the park’s famous high granite summits, Half Dome and El Capitan, are visible — for the first time since it began, though the park and its entrances remained open.
The fire had burned through nearly 7 square miles and containment efforts were in very early stages.
Dozens of people were evacuated by helicopter from 5,000-foot Half Dome rock on Sunday after winds and temperatures increased, fanning flames.
About 100 people were also evacuated from Little Yosemite Valley. The fire was not threatening any structures, but did force the closure of some trails, including the trail to Half Dome.
Meanwhile, another fire that has been burning for weeks about 400 miles north in the Klamath National Forest forced some additional evacuations Monday, when winds pushed embers over fire lines and sparked more blazes.
The fire destroyed two structures, although spokesman Chris Barth said he did not know whether they were homes. He also did not know how many additional homes were evacuated.
The lightning-sparked fire has burned through 162 square miles since it began in mid-August. It was 30 percent contained.