Fire at edge of Yosemite now 58 percent contained

Lightning strikes during a severe storm in northern California sparked at least 20 wildfires, officials said.
By Frances Burns  |  Aug. 1, 2014 at 4:55 PM
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SACRAMENTO, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Evacuation orders were lifted Friday for the El Portal fire, which continues to burn on the western edge of Yosemite National Park.

But firefighters in California remained busy. Lightning strikes earlier this week sparked at least 20 wildfires in the northern part of the state.

The El Portal fire remained at 4,200 acres. Officials said firefighters had stopped the fire's spread and it was 58 percent contained, a significant improvement from Thursday, when containment was at 34 percent.

"It didn't move much overnight. It's looking good," said Kari Cobb, a spokeswoman for the park.

Cobb said smoke from the fire was no longer obscuring the famous views of El Capitan and other peaks that surround Yosemite Valley.

Residents of El Portal and Foresta, two hamlets just outside the park, were ordered to leave after the fire began Saturday. The evacuation order for El Portal was lifted earlier this week, and that for Foresta, where two homes burned, was ended Friday afternoon.

Wildfires have become epidemic this summer in California, Oregon and Washington, following a prolonged drought.

Officials said a severe storm Wednesday afternoon hit northern California with at least 1,000 lightning strikes. More than 20 fires were reported.

Most were small. The largest, the Day fire in Modoc County was at 150 acres Friday. But evacuations were ordered as the fire threatened 200 buildings, and 680 firefighters were assigned to the blaze to keep it from getting larger.

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