MARIPOSA, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters battling a blaze that has forced evacuations in the Central California foothills were expected to face another day of dry winds and low humidity on Wednesday.
The Hunters Fire east of Lake McClure in Mariposa County, which began on Monday, has burned 2 square miles and destroyed two homes, though crews were able to halt its progress overnight, state fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said on Wednesday.
Containment was at 20 percent. Berlant said that number could rise as crews get a better assessment of the fire area in the morning.
The fire has led to five injuries, one of them an inmate firefighter who was cut by a chain saw, Berlant said. He described the injury as moderate. Four other firefighters suffered minor injuries.
Temperatures in the area on Tuesday rose into the 90s with winds up to 20 mph. The roughly 700 firefighters battling the blaze are also being challenged by the steep terrain and unusually dry conditions, officials said.
California has experienced little rainfall this year and is mired in drought. The nearby Sacramento Valley was under a Red Flag warning through Thursday night, with low humidity and dry winds creating a critical fire danger.
Sheriff’s officials have urged about 50 residents near the Hunters Fire to evacuate. The blaze is a potential threat to as many as 100 homes, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Janet Kirkland, 69, went to an evacuation center after receiving a notice from the sheriff’s office on Monday night.
She told the Fresno Bee (http://bit.ly/1lR4zVf) she didn’t realize how bad the fire was until her daughter called.
“I walked outside after she called and, sure thing, there was this huge reddish, brownish, nasty-looking plume,” she said. “I almost tipped over backwards because it looked like it was right above my house, so when I was told to evacuate, I had no ifs or buts.”