July 27, 2008

Yosemite Park Blaze Grows Quickly

California firefighters Sunday battled a wildfire near Yosemite Park that burst out of control and was threatening thousands of homes, officials said.

The new challenge came amid the news a firefighter battling another California blaze was killed Friday. Andrew Palmer, 18, of Port Townsend, Wash., died in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was the second firefighter and the first professional to die in California during what has become a grim fire season.

Some 300 homes were evacuated along the Merced River entrance to Yosemite Park Saturday and 2,000 residences were threatened when the Telegraph Fire suddenly exploded from 1,000 to 16,000 acres, the San Francisco Chronicle said.

This fire moved much faster and has acted much more erratically than anybody anticipated, Mariposa County Sheriff Brian Muller told the Chronicle. The fire has created its own weather. You had a situation where one minute it was burning south and the next minute it's burning to the east or the north.

Abigail Kimbell of the U.S. Forest Service said Palmer had been working as a firefighter for a year. He was one of hundreds battling the Eagle Fire, which has consumed 72,000 acres.