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Wildfire near Yosemite National Park threatening 800 homes

June 18, 2013|By Joseph Serna

About 800 homes are threatened by a wildfire burning near Yosemite National Park.

The Carstens fire in Mariposa County has charred 1,600 acres near the primary roadway leading to Yosemite and drawn more than 2,200 firefighters to battle the flames.

“With the numbers of homes that are threatened and the potential for this fire to grow, we needed to call in those additional resources,”  Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said Tuesday.

The fire broke out Sunday afternoon east of California 140 in the Midpines area, about 40 miles southwest of Yosemite. Encouraged by warm weather, low humidity and moderate winds, the blaze quickly spread, burning through years-old dry timber and brush toward the Sierra National Forest, Berlant said.

No structures had been reported damaged, but evacuations have been ordered for areas including Hites Cove, Jerseydale and Clarks Valley. The blaze is 15% contained and its cause is under investigation, officials said.

California 140 was closed at Triangle Road, officials said, and Triangle Road was shut in three additional areas.

The fire season has started unusually early this year, officials said. California is experiencing one of its driest years in a century, and the state's fire forecast is ominous.

“We’re not even in the peak fire season,” Berlant said. “We’re experiencing conditions statewide months earlier than normal.”

More than 51,000 acres have burned across California this year, Berlant said. At this time last year only 19,000 acres had burned. Cal Fire has responded to 2,600 fires so far in 2013, a 75% increase from 2012, he said.

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Joseph.serna@latimes.com

@josephserna

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