Northern California Wildfire Destroys 10 Homes

PLYMOUTH, Calif. (AP) -
Firefighters protect an evacuated home while the fast-moving wildfire called “Sand Fire” burns behind, near Plymouth, California. (REUTERS/Max Whittaker)
Firefighters protect an evacuated home while the fast-moving wildfire called “Sand Fire” burns behind, near Plymouth, California. (REUTERS/Max Whittaker)

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 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 morning, but threatens hundreds of homes, CalFire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said. It could grow again Sunday as firefighters brace for high wind and triple-digit heat in the drought-stricken region.

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

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.

The Sand Fire in the Sierra foothills 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 a vehicle that drove over dry vegetation started the fire, which has sent up huge plumes of smoke and worsened air quality in the Sacramento area.