Telegraph Fire burns 32,000 acres

July 30, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Cooler temperatures and calmer winds are giving firefighters a big break near Yosemite National Park.46-square-miles have burned in the Telegraph Fire. It's just a few miles west of the El Portal Gate. A couple dozen homes have been destroyed, 300 are evacuated, and at least 4,000 still threatened.

At the southern boundary of the fire, lots of the homes in the area were threatened over the weekend and residents still not allowed back in. Lots of people are still a few miles away at the Mariposa Elementary School where it has become an evacuation center.

Outside the evacuation center Tony Rose is camped out wanting to go home.

"You can call a number and check to see if your house is on the burn list," said Tony Rose, an evacuee.

Tony says the house built 20 years ago is ok so far, but 21 other homes have been burned and flames continue to run along a four square mile area the fire's northern perimeter. Tony said it gets tense when firefighters show up with the latest updates.

"Were just waiting for news to see what they're going to do. Some people get stressed and start pressing them, but what's the point?" said Tony.

Inside the center, the morning report is already under way, but Mary Briggs isn't listening she got the bad news from her boss.

"I was hoping it would hop mountain tops or something. I don't know what I was hoping, but it didn't," said Briggs, an evacuee.

Mary's house burned to the ground she left with just the clothes she was wearing.

"People were parking and taking pictures and I just didn't think this would hit home," said Mary Briggs.

On Wednesday, firefighters and sheriff deputies began talking about letting some of the fire victims in to assess the damage.

"I was just a renter, I'm a single mom. I have a 14-year-old renter. I didn't have any insurance, I lost everything," said Briggs.
"If they offer you an opportunity to go back today, would you want to?" asks ABC7's Mark Matthews.
"Right now, I'm not ready to. I'm having a hard time to keeping it together as it is," said Briggs.

For Briggs the fire has done its worst. The best news is the arrival of the world's largest water bomber, the Martin Mars. It made a stop last month on Lake Shasta and is now flying over the Telegraph Fire. able to hold 7,000 gallons.

Firefighters say the air attack can do a lot to slow down the fire's progress, giving hand crew and dozers time to set a line.

"Until you get boots and iron on the ground to put the line in, then all you have is a temporary hold," said Walt Chacon, CAL FIRE division chief.

The firefighters would be happy with a temporary hold if they could get one. So far the fire has consumed 32,000 acres, there are 3,800 firefighters on the ground. The CHP says Highway 140 is open near the El Portal entrance into Yosemite Park, but people will be allowed only with a CHP escort.

Map of Telegraph Fire: click here

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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