Some residents are returning home as fires near Yosemite recede

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

By Wednesday, the Oak Fire in Mariposa County was 32% contained to 29 square miles (75 square kilometers) of tinder-dried trees and brush, Cal Fire said.

At least 74 houses and other structures were destroyed.

About 3,800 people have been allowed to return to their homes since Tuesday, fire department spokesman Chris Garcia said. About 2,200 residents are under evacuation orders.

As monsoonal moisture moved through the Sierra Nevada foothills earlier this week, air-supported ground crews took a break from increased humidity and lower temperatures.

Garcia said of the firefighters working in the steep, rugged terrain.

Authorities are investigating the cause of Friday’s fire, which broke out southwest of the park near Midpines.

California has experienced increasingly large and deadly wildfires in recent years as climate change over the past 30 years has made the West hotter and drier. Scientists say weather will become more extreme and wildfires will become more frequent, destructive and unpredictable.

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