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Central California wildfires continue to grow in harsh conditions

Madera County wildfire is uncontrolled, more than doubles in size to 5,600 acres overnight
El Portal fire in Yosemite just 34% contained at 3,545 acres

An out-of-control wildfire in Madera County in Central California more than doubled in size overnight to 5,600 acres, officials said.

In addition to scorching temperatures, high winds and dry conditions, crews attempting to reach the blaze, dubbed the French fire, have had to traverse steep, rugged terrain in an area that has no recorded fire history, said Royjindar Singh, spokesman for the fire's incident management team.

"It's been a long time since they had something in this area," he said.

A brief downpour Wednesday morning did nothing to help tackle the flames, which are currently 0% contained and continue to rage between Fish and Rock creek campgrounds of the San Joaquin River since the fire was sparked Monday.

Wildlife, meanwhile, appear to be fleeing the area to protect themselves from the flames, said Erica Stuart, spokeswoman for the Madera County Sheriff's Department.

A photograph taken Tuesday at the fire showed a bear running through a smoke-filled wooded area.

"Wildlife is getting the brunt of it," she said.

Mandatory evacuations orders remain in place for the Mammoth Pool and Cascadel areas in Sierra National Forest.

Fire crews are working to protect structures and vacation homes near the southern end of the fire in the Hogue Ranch area.

At least nine campgrounds have been closed, as have Minarets Road and Grizzly Road.

Meanwhile, the El Portal fire, which is 34% contained, continues to rage near the communities of Old El Portal and Foresta in Yosemite National Park.

The 3,545-acre is burning in steep, rugged terrain, which has also been a challenge for firefighters who are concerned about the fire growing along the north and northeast portions of the fire.

Big Oak Flat Road between Crane Flat and El Portal Road remained closed.

A separate blaze, dubbed the Dark Hole fire, also in Yosemite National Park, grew to 643 acres and is only 5% contained, fire officials said.

For breaking news in Los Angeles and throughout California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA. She can be reached at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

 


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