OAKHURST, Calif., Aug. 20 (UPI) -- A wildfire that forced hundreds of people from the homes in an area near California's Yosemite National Park was being brought under control Wednesday, officials said.
The Junction Fire was reported to be 40 percent contained at 9 a.m. PDT. Evacuation orders were lifted for some areas south of the park, and Highway 41 to the park's southern entrance was reopened.
The fire is the second major one to hit the area around the park this year. The El Portal Fire on the west side of Yosemite charred almost 5,000 acres, threatening the hamlets of El Portal and Foresta, and coming close to a grove of ancient sequoias in the park, before it was contained Aug. 8.
The Junction Fire, which got its name because it began near the intersections of highways 41 and 49, was reported Monday. About 13,000 people in Oakhurst were affected by evacuation orders.
"You know those California drought conditions that we are faced with, the fire was moving faster than we could get firefighters in the area ahead of it," said Chris Chistopherson, a Cal Fire battalion chief.
Theresa Amberger, a visitor from New Jersey, told KVPR Radio she and her family ended up spending a night at the community center in Coarsegold, not at the hotel where they had reservations.
"We were just about three minutes from the hotel and the police were stopping us we didn't know why," Amberger said. "I noticed some smoke in the distance, but we didn't know. I called the Hotel up and they said oh you didn't know. She was like we evacuated, I gotta go and she hung up."
California, Oregon and Washington have been enduring an unusually early and active wildfire season because of a prolonged drought.