AP Photo/The Sacramento Bee

Northern California wildfire destroys 10 homes

PLYMOUTH, Calif. — Firefighters in Northern California on Sunday battled a wildfire that has destroyed 10 homes and forced hundreds of evacuations in the Sierra Nevada foothills, while a fire near Yosemite National Park destroyed one home and grew significantly overnight.

East of Sacramento, the Sand Fire in the Sierra foothills has burned about 3,800 acres, roughly 6 square miles, of steep, rugged terrain near wine-growing regions in Amador and El Dorado counties since Friday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire, which has also destroyed seven outbuildings, was 35 percent contained Sunday afternoon, but it threatens hundreds of homes in the drought-stricken region, according to CalFire.

“All of the vegetation in the area is struggling. It's burning very easily,” spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said. “It causes the fire to be a lot hotter and to spread more easily.”

The Sand Fire has prompted authorities to evacuate about 500 homes and close several roads near the town of Plymouth. Nearly 1,500 firefighters, aided by aircraft including a DC-10 air tanker, are working to control the blaze.

CalFire officials say the fire started Friday when a vehicle drove over dry vegetation.

Alfred Shults, his wife, Carolyn, and their granddaughter fled their home in El Dorado County on Friday after receiving an automated telephone call ordering residents to evacuate, according to the Sacramento Bee. Before he left, Shults said he packed as much as he could into his vehicle and turned on a sprinkler to soak the area around his beloved motorcycle.

“We just wanted to get out of there, and hope there's something left when we get back,” Alfred Shults, 65, told the Bee on Saturday as they waited for news at an evacuation center in Placerville.

West of Yosemite National Park, a wildfire that began Saturday afternoon quadrupled in size overnight to 2,100 acres, or more than 3 square miles, and was burning out of control Sunday. It destroyed one home in the small community of Foresta, adjacent to the park, Ranger Scott Gediman said. The park itself remained open.

About 400 firefighters aided by fixed-wing helicopters were battling the flames Yosemite, Gediman said. The cause wasn't immediately known.

An estimated 100 homes in Foresta and the small community of Old El Portal were evacuated Saturday, and residents remained out of their homes on Sunday. Two shelters were opened for people and animals.

“There have been no injuries so far, which is wonderful,” Gediman said.

The park itself, home to such sites as Half Dome mountain, Yosemite Meadows, a grove of Giant Sequoia trees and other wonders, remained open throughout the day Sunday. None of its treasures were threatened, Gediman said, although some areas were smoky.

The Crane Flat campground and a portion of Highway 120, a major highway leading to the park from the San Francisco Bay Area, were closed, but other roads were open. So were hotels and other amenities.

Wildfires also burned in other Western states, including Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Utah.

The nation's largest wildfire — the 618-square-mile Buzzard Complex in eastern Oregon, 45 miles northeast of Burns — remained at 95 percent contained on Sunday. Incident reports from the fire say containment lines continue hold as crews monitor increased fire activity.

In north-central Washington, the Carlton Complex fire, the biggest in the state's history, continued to burn Sunday in rising temperatures, but no major flare-ups have been reported.Bay Area NewsCosumnes Riverfirefighterwildfire

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