Hundreds flee fast-burning wildfire

Fire officials say there has been "significant structure loss," as they battle a wildfire near Yosemite that is threatening 2,000 homes

MIDPINES, CA | July 27, 2008

A fast-growing wildfire in central California that has caused "significant structure loss" and forced the evacuation of 170 homes is now threatening 2,000 others.

The Telegraph Fire in Mariposa County, about 30 miles west of Yosemite National Park, is believed to have been started by target shooters. The fire, first reported at 3 PM (PDT) Friday had spread to more than 20,000 acres by Sunday morning.

According to Daniel Berlant of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the fire is burning on both sides of the Merced River in a very steep, rocky and isolated terrain. In a Sunday morning briefing, emergency officials said the fire has caused a "significant structure loss" but because the fire has been erratic, it has not been safe to return to the already burned areas.

Fire officials said the fire spread so rapidly that many evacuees didn't have time to take anything when they fled their homes. Some of the area impacted have not seen a wildfire in decades.

An evacuation center has been set up in the nearby Mariposa Elementary School.

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