Portal Fire spreads inside Yosemite National Park

The Sand Fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills was reported to be 80 percent contained early Tuesday.
By Frances Burns   |   July 29, 2014 at 4:50 PM
| License Photo

SACRAMENTO, July 29 (UPI) -- A wildfire spread deeper into Yosemite National Park, threatening a grove of ancient sequoias.

The fire's movements, however, were good news for residents of El Portal and Foresta, two small communities on the west side of the park, moving it farther from their homes. Evacuation orders were lifted for El Portal, although they remained in place for Foresta, where two houses burned.

The Portal Fire remained several miles from Merced Grove. By early Tuesday, the blaze had grown to more than 3,000 acres since it was reported Saturday and was only 19 percent contained.

In the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Sand Fire was reported to be 80 percent contained Tuesday morning. The fire in the Plymouth, Calif., area burned scores of homes and forced hundreds of people to evacuate.

The fire also threatened vineyards.

In Yosemite, a section of Highway 120 and some campgrounds were closed because of the Portal Fire. While most of the park was open to visitors, they were warned to expect smoke obscuring the famous views of El Capitan and other landmarks.

Kim and Olotumi Laizer lost their home in Foresta to the Portal Fire. Olotumi Laizer told the San Francisco Chronicle he learned the fire was racing towards the house when a neighbor knocked on the door Saturday.

"I ran and looked out and saw a big fire coming," he said. "I told my wife we had to get out. We didn't have but five minutes."

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