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Huge Yosemite-area wildfire gains strength

  • Kayla Stanton, right, and Preston Holley, left, pack up belongings for friends as the Rim Fire threatens the small town of Tuolumne, Calif, Friday Aug. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/The Modesto Bee, Andy Alfaro) NO SALES, NO MGS, NO TV, ONLINE AP MEMBERS ONLY

FRESNO — A wildfire raging along the northwest edge of Yosemite National Park gained strength Saturday morning as firefighters scrambled to protect nearby mountain communities.

The fire held steady overnight at nearly 200 square miles, but a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says firefighters didn't get their usual reprieve from cooler early morning temperatures Saturday.

"This morning we are starting to see fire activity pick up earlier than it has the last several days," said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. "Typically, it doesn't really heat up until early afternoon. We could continue to see this fire burn very rapidly today."

The Rim Fire started in a remote canyon of the Stanislaus National Forest a week ago and is just 5 percent contained. More than 5,500 homes are threatened, four have been destroyed and voluntary and mandatory evacuations are underway.

The fire has grown so large and is burning dry timber and brush with such ferocity that it has created its own weather pattern, making it difficult to predict in which direction it will move.


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