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California blaze destroys 8 structures near Yosemite

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FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on wildfires burning in the U.S. West (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

A wildfire burning in the rugged mountains outside of Yosemite National Park has destroyed eight structures and damaged another as it rages toward a Gold Rush-era town.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says that as of Tuesday evening, the fire had scorched 39 square miles (101 square kilometers) as it makes its way to the edge of Mariposa, a town of about 2,000 people.

The blaze is fueled by tall grass, wind and heat. It's threatening at least 1,500 homes.

CalFire says it's also threatening power lines that supply electricity to Yosemite National Park. The park remained open Tuesday.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the blaze near Lake McClure, a reservoir about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Modesto, is 5 percent contained.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.


6:45 p.m.

Fire officials say a wildfire burning in the rugged mountains outside of Yosemite National Park will reach the edge of a Gold Rush era town Tuesday evening.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesman Scott McLean says the blaze jumped a highway earlier and is expected to get near Mariposa, a town of about 2,000 people near Yosemite.

Cal Fire says flames threaten more than 300 homes and buildings in Mariposa and other mountain communities southwest of the park.

The blaze near Lake McClure, east of Modesto, has charred more than 30 square miles (77 square kilometers). Officials report having it 5 percent contained.

It's burning near Highway 49, a historical route winding its way up California foothills of the western Sierra Nevada dotted landmarks that sprouted up during the state's Gold Rush.


4:30 p.m.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for a fast-moving wildfire burning in the rugged mountains outside of Yosemite National Park.

Brown announced the emergency Tuesday. It comes in response to a fire in Mariposa County that has forced thousands of residents to leave their homes.

The fire in Mariposa County started Sunday and quickly burned 24 square miles. Firefighters say they have it 5 percent contained.

The declaration allows the state to direct its resources to battle the fire that's expected to grow.

Fire officials say that record rain and snow this winter have cause grasses to grow thick, providing extra fuel for wildfires throughout the state.


2:20 p.m.

Tall grass from a deluge of winter rains is fueling wildfires throughout the Western U.S., damaging more than a dozen homes in Nevada and threatening hundreds more structures in California.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection on Tuesday ordered evacuations for some residents living southwest of Yosemite National Park.

Calfire spokeswoman DeeDee Garcia says a wildfire burning on steep hills covered by dense grass and forestland threatens roughly 300 structures.

She says the fire is miles from Yosemite, but some roads popular to park visitors are closed.

Authorities in Nevada say about 14 homes were damaged or destroyed by a wildfire that started Monday in a rural, northeastern corner of the state.

Officials have lifted an evacuation advisory, allowing hundreds of people to return home and assess damage.

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