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California

Evacuation orders lifted for Mariposa as crews slow progress of massive wildfire

Evacuation orders were lifted for the historic mining town of Mariposa on Friday morning, as firefighters slowed the progress of a massive wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park.

Authorities lifted the evacuation order at 12:15 p.m., but warned residents: “There will still be smoke in the respective areas as firefighters continue firefighting operations. If at anytime you feel unsafe, please call 911.”

The blaze, which has scorched more than 70,000 acres, is now 15% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It has gutted 58 homes, damaged 11 others and triggered the evacuation of approximately 4,000 people in Mariposa County communities.

Dozens of other structures have been destroyed or damaged, Cal Fire said.

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Thousands of firefighters plodded through steep hillsides and canyons overnight to reach flames smoldering in chaparral, and at least one firefighter was injured Friday when a fire engine rolled down a hill, officials said. The condition of the firefighter has not yet been made public.

Temperatures should warm up this weekend, but isolated thunderstorms could sweep over the southern Sierra Nevada range on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service in Hanford.

On Thursday night, residents displaced by the Detwiler fire attended a community meeting at the Merced Theatre, where they expressed concerns about security and inquired when they could return home.

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Mariposa County Sheriff Doug Binnewies said he hoped downtown Mariposa would reopen Friday, but he warned that some roads would remain closed because firefighters were still trying to mop up.

Binnewies said deputies were patrolling neighborhoods that were abandoned by homeowners who were forced to flee. He said anyone attempting to commit a crime would be arrested.

“If you’re coming here to do something nefarious, we don’t want you here,” the sheriff said. “Get out.”

With officials opening some areas Friday, Allison Byerley, a pastor in Mariposa, said she planned to prepare a special sermon for Sunday to give thanks and raise spirits.

Byerley said she will quote from Isaiah 43, which reads in part: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. ... When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

“If prayers could put out fires, this one would have been dead awhile ago,” Byerley said.

ALSO

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The fight to save the gold-mining town of Mariposa from a monster fire

‘Explosive’ flames destroy 45 homes as 70,000-acre wildfire rages near Yosemite

Whittier fire in Los Padres National Forest consumes more than 18,000 acres


UPDATES:

11:35 a.m.: This article was updated with details on evacuation orders being lifted for Mariposa.

8:35 a.m.: This article was updated with information about the possible return of evacuated Mariposa residents.

7:15 a.m.: This article was updated with new figures on the size of the fire and number of homes destroyed.

This article was originally published at 4 a.m.

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