The Rim fire near Yosemite National Park continued to spread Wednesday night as hundreds of firefighters battled to stop flames that were burning timber and brush in rugged, isolated terrain.
The fire, which continued to rage in the Stanislaus National Forest for the fifth consecutive day, spewed out huge clouds of smoke that could be seen for miles.
The blaze had consumed more than 16,000 acres and was 5% contained Wednesday night, fire officials said. The fire initially grew from 800 acres to more than 10,000 acres in a day and has forced the closure of California 120, one of the main highways leading to Yosemite.
A number of evacuation orders have been issued for communities near the California 120 and along Ferretti Road, which branches off from the highway. The latest evacuations came Wednesday for the community of Pine Mountain Lake.
Officials with the U.S. Forest Service said the fire continued to spread south of California 120 into timbered areas. The blaze also pushed north across the Clavey River into remote terrain.
"It's still an active, growing fire," incident command spokesman Dennis Godfrey said earlier Wednesday. "We're putting a lot of resources into it."
More than 700 firefighters on the ground were being aided by helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft that made repeated assaults on the blaze.
So far, at least two homes and five outbuildings have been destroyed. Officials were investigating the cause of the blaze, which broke out Saturday afternoon. No injuries have been reported.
Yosemite park ranger Kari Cobb said earlier Wednesday that a smoky haze was visible on the western edge. But tourists continued to visit the park, which was not endangered.
“The park’s completely open. It’s pretty far out of the park,” Cob said.