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Wildfires rage in Northern California as hot, dry weather persists

Sand fire containment increases to 50% with 3,800 acres burned as of Sunday
More fire crews arriving to fight El Portal fire near Yosemite National Park; 2,100 acres burned

A wildfire raging in Northern California grew to 3,800 acres over the weekend, but firefighters appeared to be gaining the upper hand, with containment increasing to 50%, officials reported.

Nearly 2,000 fire personnel were battling the Sand fire on Sunday as it burned east of Sacramento. The fire was sparked Friday afternoon when a vehicle drove through dry brush, according to Lynne Tolmachoff, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Fire crews were being aided by six air tankers, eight water-dropping helicopters and 30 bulldozers, which were working to build containment lines around the blaze. she said.

Crews have had to deal with blistering hot temperatures, combined with tinder dry vegetation and low humidity.

Unless weather conditions improve, officials said, full containment of the blaze, which has so far destroyed 10 homes and several other buildings, isn't expected until the first week of August.

About 1,200 people have been evacuated from more than 500 homes in the area, officials said.

Meanwhile, a separate wildfire near Yosemite National Park grew to more than 2,100 acres.

Scott Gediman, a spokesman for the park, said the El Portal fire started at 4 p.m. Saturday near El Portal. One home was burned and about 100 homes in the communities of Old El Portal and La Floresta had been evacuated as of Sunday.

The Crane Flat campground was also evacuated.

More than 400 firefighters were attacking the flames on the ground and from the air, Gediman said, with more expected to arrive.

For news as it happens in California, follow @JasonBretWells.

 

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