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California firefighters battle 200 new wildfires in a single week

Wildfires
Cal Fire says 200 new wildfires under its jurisdiction ignited last week; only one continues to burn
Cal Fire has responded to more than 3,600 wildfires this year -- last year, the number was 3,000

California firefighters have responded to more than 200 new wildfires in the last week alone, a pace that officials say shows no signs of slowing.

The state’s historic drought continues to keep vegetation tinder dry as summer temperatures and low humidity combine with devastating effect.

So far this year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has sent crews to more than 3,600 fires under its jurisdiction that have burned about 63 square miles. That figure is far more than the roughly 3,000 fires the agency responded to over the same period last year, although at roughly 106 square miles, more land was burned, statistics show.

The five-year average for this time of year would be about 2,500 fires and 54 square miles burned, Cal Fire reported.

Despite the rash of wildfires that ignited last week, only one -- the Sand fire -- continues to burn, said Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff.

The fire has burned about 3,800 acres in steep, dry terrain in Amador County and was 75% contained as of Monday night. Evacuations for many residents off San Ridge Road were lifted Monday, but some in other parts of the forest remained in effect.

Fire officials said flames had destroyed 13 residences and 38 outbuildings. About 500 structures continued to be threatened by the blaze, which fire officials said was sparked by a vehicle in dry vegetation.

More than 1,800 firefighters were attacking the fire and hoping to increase containment through the night. Earlier Monday, four helicopters were aiding crews on the ground.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Forest Service was struggling to contain a largely out of control blaze as it raged across wildlands in Yosemite National Park and neighboring Stanislaus National Forest. 

The flames of the Yosemite fire had burned 2,700 acres and forced authorities to order evacuations of about 100 homes in Foresta and El Portal, fire officials said. The wildfire was only 5% contained Monday night.

Crane Flat and Yosemite Creek campgrounds were closed, and the Bridalveil Creek campground was being used for firefighting personnel and equipment, the U.S. Forest Service said.

Tioga Pass Road and California highways 41 and 140 remained open.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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