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Hunters fire in Mariposa County pushes east toward Yosemite

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The Hunters fire is pushing toward Yosemite National Park after consuming 1,300 acres
#HuntersFire so far: 5 people injured, at least 2 vacant homes destroyed, 1,300 acres burned, 20% contained

A wildfire burning in Mariposa County crawled slowly east toward Yosemite National Park on Tuesday as hundreds of firefighters dealt with increasingly strong winds.

The Hunters fire has burned 1,300 acres and was 20% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fast-moving blaze has destroyed two vacant homes, threatens 100 more and has injured five people, at least two of them firefighters.

Federal agencies monitoring the blaze estimated that it has cost more than $500,000 to battle so far.

The fire started Monday about 3:30 p.m. in the Hunters Valley area near Lake McClure and within a few hours had grown to 500 acres and forced authorities to order evacuations for several communities. The blaze doubled in size in 24 hours and is not expected to be fully contained until next week, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Winds were "relatively light" during the day Tuesday, but increased at night, hampering firefighting efforts, Cal Fire reported.

Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the agency, said crews are seeing conditions not typically seen until summer, when dry brush and chaparral create explosive wildfire conditions.

"There is plenty of fuel to burn," he said.

Residents who received evacuation notices Tuesday were told to leave because access would be limited and they would not be allowed to return home if they decided to leave later, said Mariposa County sheriff's spokeswoman Kristie Mitchell.

The blaze started as a house fire that quickly spread to the surrounding brush because of dry conditions and strong winds, KABC-TV reported.

The American Red Cross has set up an evacuation center, and county officials established a rescue center for pets.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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