Hikers evacuated from Yosemite as wildfire spreads rapidly

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Yosemite National Park

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Helicopters plucked hikers from atop Yosemite’s Half Dome peak and other parts of the national park after a wildfire spread rapidly.

Around 100 hikers were evacuated from Half Dome, Little Yosemite Valley and nearby trails after the fire quickly swelled to engulf roughly 700 acres of land, park authorities said.

The blaze, dubbed the Meadow Fire, began around noon Sunday in the park’s backcountry wilderness, east of Half Dome, a towering granite formation that is one of the park’s best known features.

Images from the scene showed a huge plume of smoke billowing over the park’s mountainous terrain.

“As soon as the wind was catching it, the flames were 200-foot high,” Mark Fidler, a hiker who was airlifted to safety, told CNN affiliate KFSN. “It was pretty scary at points.”

Seven helicopters, a plane and ground teams spent the afternoon battling the fire, which is in an area at an elevation of 7,000 feet, park authorities said.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation. No injuries or damage to structures have been reported.

Hundreds of firefighters have already spent days tackling a fire that has torched at least 300 acres near the national park. That fire, in Mariposa County, started Friday.

Authorities have said that California’s ongoing historic drought has helped fuel the fires in the area.

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