Fire starts burning Stanislaus Nat. Forest

July 30, 2008 12:23:13 AM PDT
An out of control wildfire is getting closer and closer to Yosemite National Park and is also threatening thousands of homes. The park is still open, with the Telegraph Fire just eight miles away.

There is a big battle on the north side of the fire. Firefighters are taking a stand so the flames don't get any closer to Yosemite. There is good news however, that there have not been any more homes lost on Tuesday because of the fire.

Day five of the Telegraph Fire brought new danger for firefighters and not always from the flames.

"It's a clear sky, which means a lot of radiant heat from the sun. It's reaching the earth earlier, so we are going to see a good heat up this afternoon," said Sarah Gibson, a CAL FIRE information officer.

It's an understatement to say walking down a long, steep, rocky trail to dig holes to create a fire line in 90 degree weather will work up a sweat, but if they become dehydrated it could set back firefighting efforts for hours.

"If they get behind on it and they get cramped up and they go down and they take a couple of crew members with them trying to get them out of there and we lose the whole crew, so it's very important they stay hydrated," said Chuck Nicola, with Orange County Fire.

Firefighters from a Southern California strike team were digging in at a home off Rancheria Creek Road, keeping watch above their crew creating a fire line.

The mountain side off Rancheria Creek Road was smoldering for about three hours and then flames shot up. That's when call when out for air support to help protect the firefighters down below.

Helicopters have been invaluable in this terrain. It could take firefighters hours to get to a spot that a copter can reach in seconds. There is a lot more dry brush to burn in the mountains of Mariposa County.

Highway 140 is blocked from Mariposa to Yosemite. The fire is eight miles from the El Portal entrance to the park and tourists had to take the long way around.

"A little bit of an adventure, a little but more of driving on a mountain road than I wanted, but I can survive," said Ted Stringer, a Yosemite visitor.

Highway 140 is scheduled to open up once the helicopters are grounded at 8 p.m. and will remain open until 9 a.m. Of course all of that can change is the fire jumps Highway 140.

Send us your photos
If you have pictures of this fire or any other fire burning in the Bay Area, we want to hear from you. Send them to photos@kgo-tv.com and we'll feature them on-air and online.

MORE: ABC7's Bay Area wildfire resource guide and safety tips
MAP: Google Reference Map of California Fires
(From the Governor's Office of Emergency Services).


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