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California crews increase control over wildfire that's burned 18K acres, dozens of homes

The Oak Fire is seen burning in Mariposa County, Calif., on Sunday. Authorities said on Tuesday that the blaze, which began last Friday, is about 26% contained and had burned more than 18,000 acres. Photo courtesy Clovis Police Dept./Twitter
The Oak Fire is seen burning in Mariposa County, Calif., on Sunday. Authorities said on Tuesday that the blaze, which began last Friday, is about 26% contained and had burned more than 18,000 acres. Photo courtesy Clovis Police Dept./Twitter

July 26 (UPI) -- Crews are getting more control of the wildfire that's burning near Yosemite National Park in Northern California, which has destroyed dozens of homes and prompted evacuation orders for thousands of residents.

Fire officials said in an update on Tuesday that the Oak Fire has torched about 18,100 acres in Mariposa County, which is located in north-central California east of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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The blaze, which is the area's third major fire in a week, quickly burned through dry vegetation and has been aided by hot temperatures in the region.

Fire crews, however, have gained more control over the fire. Cal Fire said in its update that it's 26% contained. That's an improvement over Monday, when containment was at just 18%.

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The blaze began on Friday.

"Fire crews continue providing structure defense, extinguishing hotspots, and building and improving direct fire lines," Cal Fire said in a statement. "Persistent drought, critically dry fuels and tree mortality continue to contribute to the fire's spread."

Officials said Mother Nature has helped some recently with an increase in humidity levels and "monsoonal moisture" early Tuesday.

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"Smoke from the fire is producing poor visibility to the north of the fire during the day and across the fire at night," Cal Fire added. "Humidity is forecasted to begin to trend higher. Damage inspection continues within the fire perimeter."

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So far, at least 41 homes and other structures have been destroyed by the fire and authorities have placed restrictions and closures near the affected area along the Sierra National Forest.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency as the Oak Fire threatens thousands of additional homes in Mariposa County.

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