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Rim fire burning in California reaches Yosemite National Park


Firefighters from Cosumnes Fire Department monitor a back fire while battling the Rim Fire on Aug. 22, 2013 in Groveland, Calif.


Justin Sullivan

A wildfire that broke out in California’s Stanislaus National Forest almost a week ago has spread to Yosemite National Park.

The Rim fire, named for a forest lookout point called Rim of the World, has reached Lake Eleanor, on the northeastern edge of the park. The remote area, which hikers must obtain backcountry permits to visit, is about 20 miles from Yosemite Valley, where most tourists head.

"We don't have anybody we know of in that area based on the permits we have out now," park representative Kari Cobb told the Associated Press.

The blaze had burned 11,000 acres of Yosemite as of Friday. It's destroyed four homes and 12 outbuildings as it’s burned through 165 square miles since Aug. 17.

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The US Forest Service said the fire was threatening about 4,500 homes. Voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for the roughly 2,000 people who live in the towns of Tuolumne City and Ponderosa Hills.

The US Forest Service has dispatched more than 2,000 firefighters and nine helicopters to battle the fire, which was only 2 percent contained as of Friday.

Park officials closed Yosemite’s Lake Eleanor, Hetch Hetchy and the Hodgdon Meadow Campground to the public earlier this week, and have shut down four miles of Highway 120. However, there are no plans to close Yosemite entirely, they said.

"We're not anywhere near closing the park," Cobb told Reuters. "We have to wait and see what the fire activity is and what it does, and we're just going to try as hard as we can to help with the suppression of the fire."

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