Big Meadow Fire Evacuations Expand

August 30, 2009 3:01:32 PM PDT
The fire started Wednesday as a controlled burn inside the park, and then quickly got out of control.The Big Meadow Fire in Yosemite is still burning tonight with new evacuation orders now put in place. The fire started Wednesday as a controlled burn inside the park and then quickly got out of control.

It's now threatening more than fifty houses in the area. Hundreds of people have been evacuated from the town of Foresta and now evacuations have expanded near El Portal.Planes have refueled more than 70-thousand gallons of fire retardant from this air attack base today.

The Big Meadow Fire has grown rapidly. But, crews have been called in from several different agencies to try and get a handle on it.Crews fighting the Big Meadow Fire in Yosemite refueled at the Fresno Air Attack base Saturday night.

They've been back and forth all day long, combating the fire that has already charred more than 3,000 acres. "The rest of the country hasn't really had a fire season. We're just lucky and able to bring in these resources. Do we ever have enough resources? No"

Closer to the fire lines, helicopters collected water from the Merced River to drop on the flames. The Big Meadow Fire started inside Yosemite Park on Wednesday as a controlled burn but grew out of control overnight. "There was some unexpected wind and it moved the fire across our control lines and it continued to spread from there."

The fire's unexpected growth has forced people to evacuate the area.

At a town hall meeting Friday night, all 600 people living in El Portal were asked to leave. Paul Amstutz, who lives in Old El Portal decided to load up some valuables and take his kids and their classmates to a friend's house nearby.

"And we went down to john's house and we had a huge slumber party and all the girls got to have a spontaneous slumber party, so they think it's pretty good."

Jenny Wheeler and her friends left their homes, and plan to leave the area all together. "It's scary obviously. My house is up there. It's already burned over that area, you know, but there's nothing I can do about it. We're going to the mountains!"

Though the Big Meadow Fire hasn't been contained, fire crews say they do have a handle on it. "They're moving fast and it will come together in the end."

Acting governor John Garamendi declared Mariposa County a state of emergency today. That will give the area more resources to battle the blaze. Tonight, the big meadow fire is 30-percent contained. And if you are traveling to Yosemite, expect delays on route 140.

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