Science, Tech & Environment

Fire near Yosemite latest during drought-dried summer

The Carstens wildfire burns near Yosemite National Park on Monday, June 17, 2013. (YouTube screenshot)

Firefighters in Mariposa County California will spend another day reining in a fire that has already burned 1600 acres outside Yosemite.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection investigators reported that the fire, now 85 percent contained, was caused by an unattended campfire. Hundreds of people have been evacuated, though CalFire officials said evacuation orders would be lifted for some 700 residents.

Fires are 75 percent more frequent this year compared to last year according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The southern and central regions of California are stuck in a two-year, ongoing drought leaving little moisture available to plants and making them susceptible to fire.

"The field conditions in the area are extremely dry, they're abnormally dry," said Tom Wolanski, meteorologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

Field moistures have reached the low numbers only seen during the hottest months like late August and early September, Wolanski said.

Relief is not expected to come until late in the year, when the winter rains begin, Wolanski said.

"So until then, it's going to continue to be very dry and of course the hottest time of the year is still coming," he said, "Unfortunately the worst is yet to come."

One firefighter suffered a minor injury and no buildings have been damaged, according to the Associated Press.

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