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Yosemite sequoia grove believed out of danger

The smoke is clearing in Yosemite Valley as firefighters continue to battle a wildfire, officials at Yosemite National Park said.
By Frances Burns   |   July 31, 2014 at 3:33 PM   |   Comments

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EL PORTAL, Calif., July 31 (UPI) -- A slight cool-down has helped the effort to save a grove of giant sequoias from a wildfire in California's Yosemite National Park, officials said Thursday.

While the El Portal fire remained at 34 percent containment, fire officials said they were making progress. Highway 120, the main entranceway to the park, was reopened after a brief closure Wednesday and the smoke is clearing from Yosemite Valley.

The Merced Grove is only about 2 miles from the fire. But officials said the trees, some of the oldest living things on the planet, are not in imminent danger.

"A combination of things calmed that area down," said Kari Cobb, a park spokesperson. "We feel pretty good that the hottest parts of the fire are finally starting to cool."

The fire, first reported Saturday, has burned almost 4,200 acres on the western side of the park. El Portal and Foresta, two hamlets just outside the park, were evacuated.

The road to Foresta is the only one that remains closed and the community of about 60 houses is still under evacuation orders. Two houses burned there.

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