A fast-moving wildfire is threatening hundreds of giant sequoias at Yosemite National Park

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A fast-moving wildfire near Yosemite National Park exploded in size Saturday. The Oak Fire, which began Friday afternoon southwest of the park near Midpines in Mariposa County, being one of California’s largest wildfires of the year, grew to 10.2 square miles (26.5 square kilometers) by Saturday morning. The fire is moving quickly. Huge clouds of smoke rise. Numerous road, including Highway 140 between Carstens Road and Allred Road were closed for public access. Pacific Gas & Electric said on its website that more than 2,600 homes and businesses in the area had lost power by Friday afternoon. The fire forced the evacuation of a number of communities in the area including the community of Wowona and endangered hundreds of giant sequoias, the world’s largest trees by volume.

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“Without urgent action, wildfires could eliminate countless more iconic giant sequoias,” Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said in a statement. Evacuation orders were put in effect Saturday for over 6,000 people. Gov. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency for Mariposa County on Saturday. By Saturday morning, the fire had destroyed 10 residential and commercial structures, damaged five others and was threatening 2,000 more structures, Cal Fire said. The Oak Fire, which was exhibiting “extreme” fire behavior, remained 0% contained as of late afternoon Saturday. Eleven fire crews with more than 400 personnel, as well as 45 fire engines and four helicopters, have been assigned to fight the flames. Extremely hot and dry weather is predicted for the Midpines area throughout the week.