Wildfire near Yosemite burning out of control

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image ap"><span>AP</span></div><span class="caption-text">Orange County Firefighters Tyler Johnson, left and Mike Reinhold look at fires burning across the Briceburg mountains along side the Merced River Sunday, July 27, 2008 in Briceburg, Calif. An out-of-control wildfire burning Sunday near an entrance to Yosemite National Park has destroyed eight homes and threatened thousands more as flames forced authorities to cut power to the park. &#40;AP Photo&#47;Gary Kazanjian&#41;</span></div>
July 28, 2008 5:01:26 PM PDT
Little relief from hot weather is expected this week as crews fight to contain a wildfire near Yosemite National Park that has destroyed 12 homes and forced the evacuation of about 200 others. The blaze has charred more than 26,000 acres - over 40 square miles - since Friday as wooded slopes ignited. Besides homes, the fire has engulfed 27 other buildings.

Officials ordered the evacuations of 195 homes under immediate threat, but some residents defied orders and stayed to protect their property. About 2,000 homes faced at least some danger from the fast-spreading flames, said Wayne Barringer, a state fire spokesman on the scene.

Most of the evacuated houses are in the town of Midpines, about 12 miles from the park.

A manager at the Yosemite Bug, a hostel in Midpines popular with European backpackers, said most guests had left over the weekend, but a few brave travelers stayed on Monday to try to spot Yosemite Valley's celebrated granite peaks through the smoke.

"Some of them just don't care, they just want to see the beauties of Yosemite," said manager Carrie Kidwell. "We had guests in here this morning going to the park, and I advised them to take their things with them because we don't know which way the wind's going to shift between now and when they get back."

At the peak of summer, as many as 4,000 visitors a day stream into the park. Park officials expect to see thousands of visitors Monday, despite the fires.

"People are out there hiking, the campgrounds are full, everyone is taking the smoke in stride," said Scott Gediman, a park ranger.

Power has been out since Saturday in the park and in the outlying community of El Portal on the park's western boundary. Hotels in the area are open and running on generators.

Some residents stayed within the evacuation zone to battle the flames on their own.

"My house is about 100 yards from some fire right now and that's freaking me out," said John Romero, who answered his phone Sunday evening during a break from digging trenches and clearing brush with a little tractor.

Romero said his brother, Tony Romero, has an adjoining property with a 50,000-gallon swimming pool. The brothers planned to pump water from the pool to defend their homes if the fire advanced that far.

Weather early this week is expected to bring little change from the hot, dry conditions that have plagued California for months. High temperatures are expected to remain in the low- to mid-90s, with low humidity and afternoon wind, National Weather Service meteorologist onal drops planned for Monday.


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