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article imageExtremely dangerous California wildfire burns near Yosemite

By Karen Graham     Jul 16, 2018 in Environment
Sacramento - A deadly California wildfire more than doubled in size and raged through more than 14 square miles of brush and forest Monday, blanketing much of Yosemite National Park in smoke and forcing the closure of a major access road to the park.
Officials say Heavy Fire Equipment Operator Braden Varney, age 36 and a married father of two, was killed Saturday, July 14, 2018, while battling the Ferguson Fire.
The terrain was so rugged it took until Monday morning for crews to retrieve Varney's body. He was killed when his bulldozer rolled over, Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLean said.
The so-called Ferguson fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. Friday night in Mariposa County, near the west end of Yosemite National Park and the Sierra National Forest. By Monday the fire had doubled in size to 14 square miles (36.3 square kilometers) and was only 2.0 percent contained.
Smoke from the Ferguson fire burning outside Yosemite in the Sierra National Forest is creating poor...
Smoke from the Ferguson fire burning outside Yosemite in the Sierra National Forest is creating poor visibility in Yosemite and is affecting air quality.
National Park Service
Smoke from the blaze was so thick it blanketed much of Yosemite National Park in smoke, forcing the closure of a stretch of State Route 140 - a key route into the park. John DeYoe, a spokesman for the interagency campaign combating the Ferguson Fire, said a "massive order" of firefighters, engines and other gear rolled in Monday.
"We had extreme fire behavior overnight," he told USA TODAY. "It caught a couple of drainages (low-lying areas) and ran." Communities have already been warned that mandatory evacuations will be coming soon, "so get your stuff ready," DeYoe said.
Dozens of fires burning across the west
The Ferguson fire is but one of dozens burning across the western United States. And the danger is made worse because of the drought-like conditions and high heat that is expected to last for another seven days.
Active wildfires in the U.S. as of July 16  2018.
Active wildfires in the U.S. as of July 16, 2018.
Public Information Map - ArcGIS
"Weather is expected to remain hot and dry for the next seven days, with isolated thunderstorms possible," Michael Strawhun, a member of the South Central Sierra Interagency Incident Management Team, warned in his incident report.
AccuWeather is forecasting above-average temperatures to persist throughout Washington, Oregon, Northern California and much of the interior Northwest at least through the first half of this week.
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