Fires near park

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By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER

Air tankers from Columbia Air Base could be heard and seen over Tuolumne County yesterday as pilots responded to fires near Oakhurst and in Yosemite National Park.

Nearly 400 acres are burning in chaparral and pine near El Portal in Yosemite.

The Woodlot Fire started in the woodlot on Middle Road in the El Portal Administrative Site, Yosemite Ranger Deb Schweizer said. The flames caused electrical outages in the El Portal area, but no buildings have been damaged. Cause of the fire is undetermined.

Reports this morning from the National Interagency Coordination Center, which manages firefighting efforts nationwide, said the fire was 50 percent contained and should be fully contained by Saturday.

Almost 500 people from Yosemite, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Stanislaus National Forest and Sierra National Forest, California Highway Patrol and Mariposa County Sheriff's Office are helping control the flames. There are no cost estimates yet.

About six miles south of Oakhurst, the North Fork fire has burned through 360 acres of oak woodland and heavy brush. The fire was 75 percent contained this morning, and NICC reports estimated it was to be fully contained later today.

Almost 1,000 people have responded to the flames, and about $471,000 has been spent fighting the fire.

Contact Genevieve Bookwalter at gbookwalter @uniondemocrat.com .

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