Thousands flee homes as devastating California wildfire destroys 100 structures including 50 houses

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More than 5000 residents have fled their homes as about 100 structures, half of them houses, were destroyed in a devastating wildfire in California.

About 2,000 residents of the town of Mariposa, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, evacuated their homes on Tuesday as the so-called Detwiler Fire approached.

It eventually destroyed 99 structures, including 50 houses, in the area, according to local and state officials.

The fire has razed through 74,083 acres (29,980 hectares) as of this morning, an increase of about 4,000 from Thursday.

It is now 15 percent contained, up from 10 percent Thursday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said on its website.

Mike Wright sits in a lawn chair at his home as flames approach
(Image: AFP)
A firefighter walks near a home as flames from the fast-moving fire approach
(Image: REUTERS)
Firefighters watch approaching flames
(Image: AFP)
A burnt vehicle is seen near a home destroyed by the Detwiler fire
(Image: REUTERS)
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"Even though the fire has grown in one area, there's containment in other areas and those are safe for the owners to go back," Cal Fire spokesman John Clingingsmith said on Friday.

"We can start repopulating. It'll be done neighborhood by neighborhood in an orderly fashion."

Mariposa County Sheriff Doug Binnewies said during a community meeting on Thursday that authorities were engaged in "detailed conversations" about repopulating and hoped county residents would be able to return to their homes on Friday.

A burned out vehicle is seen near a destroyed home
(Image: REUTERS)
Firefighters unloads water hoses
(Image: REUTERS)
Charred beverage bottles and cans are seen near a home destroyed by the fire
(Image: REUTERS)
Burnt trees stand as the sun sets in a smoke-filled skyline
(Image: AFP)
A group of evacuees from Mariposa gather in the parking lot at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church in Oakhurst
(Image: REUTERS)

A total of 5,000 residents in the small communities on the edge of the Yosemite National Park have been evacuated since the fire began on Sunday.

The community of Coulterville was evacuated on Wednesday.

After growing by more than 22,000 acres overnight, the fire's progress slowed on Thursday, taking only 500 acres during the day, Cal Fire said.

Evacuees who declined to give their names react to their situation while camping at a Red Cross evacuation center in Oakhurst
(Image: AFP)
An air tanker drops fire retardant on flames as firefighters continue to battle the fire
(Image: AFP)
A helicopter carries water to a drop point
(Image: AFP)
A chimney stands amidst remains of a home
(Image: REUTERS)
Fire crews provide structure protection near Mariposa Airport after authorities ordered evacuations
(Image: REUTERS)
An air tanker drops fire retardant on flames as firefighters continue to battle the fire
(Image: AFP)

By Friday morning, it mushroomed.

"Except for (Wednesday), this fire doubled in size every day," Tim Chavez, a state fire official said during the community meeting.

"That is really unusual for it to progress like that."

A real estate sign is surrounded by flames
(Image: AFP)
The remains of a burned property smolders
(Image: AFP)
Evacuees Jodi and Don Roark of Bear Valley rest in the parking lot of Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church
(Image: REUTERS)
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More than 3,700 firefighters, working in temperatures of 90 to 96 degrees Fahrenheit (32 to 36 Celsius), were battling the fire, Cal Fire said.

Chavez blamed the fire's growth on spot fires, drought and grassy vegetation. The area's rough topography made fighting the blaze harder, he said.

Helicopter drops water on a hot spot
(Image: REUTERS)
To date, the fire has destroyed 45 structures and damaged 6 others
(Image: AFP)
A firefighter sprays down flames as the fire rages
(Image: AFP)

Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Mariposa County on Tuesday.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

A total of 44 large fires across 11 western states were burning on Thursday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center's website.

From The Mirror