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Yosemite wildfires threaten California townsMon, 26 Aug, 2013 | Posted By: The Times Of Earth (TOE)

Yosemite wildfires threaten California towns Some 2,800 firefighters are tackling the Rim Fire. AP
A massive wildfire in the western U.S. state of California is raging out of control and threatening one of the country's best known national parks.

Authorities said Monday the blaze has consumed more than 60,000 hectares, engulfing part of Yosemite National Park, in the central part of California. 

Officials said the fire is only about 15 percent contained. They have cleared brush and positioned sprinklers in an effort to protect the park's giant sequoia trees, some of the oldest living flora on Earth.

The Yosemite blaze is one of about 50 large wildfires that are currently burning in the parched western U.S., where lack of snow and rainfall this year have caused extremely dry conditions.

More than 3,400 firefighters are battling towering flames, fueled by 80-kilometer-an-hour winds. 

Some residents in the path of the fire, like Claudio Alecio, had to move quickly to escape.

"Fifteen minutes to be out of our house. So we only got our kids, our animals, and a little bit of pictures, and you know, paperwork that we really needed, and it was hard."

More than 5,000 homes are endangered by the blaze, which began on 17 August from still unknown causes in the Stanislaus National Forest.

The Rim Fire is one of 50 major wildfires burning in the western US. Lack of rain and snow have made it a bad year, with 5,700 fires being tackled so far.

Source: Agencies
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