Some residents return home as fire near Yosemite slows

JERSEYDALE, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters have dramatically slowed the spread of a California wildfire near Yosemite National Park, allowing officials to lift some evacuation orders for residents of remote mountain communities.

As of Wednesday, the Oak Fire in Mariposa County had moved through more than 29 square miles (75 square kilometers) of dry trees and brush, with 32% containment, Cal Fire said.

At least 74 homes and other structures were destroyed.

Fire department spokesman Chris Garcia said around 3,800 people had been cleared to return home as of Tuesday. About 2,200 residents remain under evacuation orders.

Ground crews with air support got a break from rising humidity and falling temperatures as monsoon humidity ripped through the Sierra Nevada foothills earlier this week.

“They’re definitely making good progress,” Garcia said of the firefighters working in steep, uneven terrain.

Authorities were investigating the cause of the fire that started last Friday southwest of the park, near the town of Midpines.

California has seen increasingly large and deadly wildfires in recent years as climate change has made the West much hotter and drier over the past 30 years. Scientists said weather will continue to be more extreme and wildfires will be more frequent, destructive and unpredictable.

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