Firefighters continue to battle Northern California, Yosemite blazes

A long exposure image shows the El Portal Fire burning late Sunday near Yosemite National Park.
(Stuart Palley / EPA)

Firefighters continued to make progress Monday night battling a Northern California wildfire after banishing a private drone from the skies as water-dropping helicopters made repeated assaults on the flames.

The Sand fire had scorched about 3,800 acres in steep, dry terrain in Amador County, but fire crews had the blaze 75% contained, according to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Another blaze continued to rage across wildlands in Yosemite National Park and the neighboring Stanislaus National Forest.

At the Sand Fire, a drone was spotted in the air Sunday a few miles from Plymouth. The town is about 40 miles southeast of Sacramento. Law enforcement authorities asked the owner to stop flying the aircraft and to keep it away from the flight path of firefighting aircraft that were battling the blaze.


The owner was apparently operating the drone, described as a “quadcopter,” so he could “check out the fire” for his “own personal entertainment,” Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said.

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 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.

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 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.

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